By Chris Gionta
The Springfield baseball team was able to hang on for a 10-9 victory against Clark on Friday afternoon at Archie Allen Field. Normally, allowing eight unanswered runs garners a loss, but the Pride’s offense has consistently provided a great cushion. They scored double-digit runs for the 10th time on Friday, which came on 14 hits.
“We have scored a lot of runs, and that’s helpful,” said Springfield head coach Mark Simeone. “Because we needed 10 to win today.”
After the first two innings of the game were scoreless, Clark strung some hits together in the top of the third to scratch across a run. However, with men on first and third and two outs with an opportunity to add another run, the base runner on first attempted a delayed steal to force a throw. After an initial hesitation, catcher Ryan Sorgi threw the ball in the direction of second base, and the man on third darted for home. The shortstop Michael Barrett cut it off and threw it back to Sorgi to nail the runner for the third out.
In the bottom of the inning, a Joe Penkala bunt with one out was able to spark the Pride’s offense. The following hitter, Barrett, hit a single, then Jack Simonetty barrelled a ball to left center field for a 2-run triple. Cadin Maynard then drove him in on an infield single to make it 3-1.
After a 1-2-3 inning from Springfield starting pitcher Colby Welch, the Pride scored three more. Penkala hit an RBI single, then with men on second and third, Simonetty grounded a ball through the left side to drive them both in to give him four RBI on the day.
The Cougars provided a threat in the top of the fifth inning. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases with one out for their cleanup hitter. Yet, Welch induced a weak ground ball up the middle that Barrett was able to grab, then touch second base and fire to first for a double play.
Jack Cooney drove Sorgi in on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning, then Welch tossed another scoreless frame to finish his successful outing. He ended up with one run allowed through six innings, which is exactly how his previous start went.
“(What Welch has improved upon is) getting ahead of hitters, getting first pitch strikes, challenging guys, believing in himself, and pitching with confidence,” Simeone said. “(Clark) is an aggressive-hitting team, and we talked to Colby (Welch) and said ‘if you throw first-pitch strikes with any of the pitches in your repertoire, you’re going to have some success because they’re up there swinging the bat.’”
In the bottom of the sixth, Noah Bleakley hit a ball very close to the 400-foot sign in center field. It went over the center fielder’s head and bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double. Next, with men on second and third, Sorgi hit a 2-run single to make it 10-1.
After a Clark run scored in the top of the seventh, Jack DeGirolamo impressively escaped a jam without allowing further damage. With the bases loaded and no outs, he was called in to pitch. He struck out the first batter he faced, then induced a pop out to very shallow right field. With a full count on the next batter, the Cougar base runner on first ran too early, and DeGirolamo stepped off the mound and threw to first base. This caused a pickle, and the man on third ran for home. Bleakley threw that way and got him out to keep the game 10-2.
The Cougars were able to make the game close in the next inning, though. After their first batter struck out, they took four consecutive hit-by-pitches to score a run. An RBI single followed, then a Clark hitter bounced a ball down the third base line that hit the base and lept over Simonetty’s head. It ended up being a 2-run double to make it 10-6. The following batter hit an RBI groundout, and the batter after him hit an RBI single through the hole between the shortstop and third baseman to bring the Pride’s lead to two.
The Cougars held Springfield scoreless in the bottom of the eighth, so Bleakley came into the game for the save. He got the first two outs, then gave up a home run that made it 10-9. But, he struck out the next batter looking to secure the victory.
This victory improved the Pride to 7-4 in conference play. They will look to continue their success in a doubleheader on Saturday at Clark that starts at 12 p.m.
Photo: Springfield College Athletics