By Chris Gionta
The Springfield College baseball team swept Williams College on Sunday in their doubleheader at Archie Allen Field. They won their first game in ten innings, 6-5, then walked it off in the second game as well, 4-3.
The Pride got off to their first 5-0 start since 2011, and it was not easy. The team needed to play their best when it counted, and that is exactly what they did.
“Those guys are fighting and scratching and clawing,” Head Coach Mark Simeone said. “And I think that’s what we’ve done extremely well this weekend – is competed. We’ve competed very well – we haven’t played as well as we’re going to, but we competed well, and that helped us win those games.”
Competing and grinding were necessary tasks for the Pride in both games on Sunday, but especially in their first game. Down 5-2 in the third inning, the Williams bats were on fire. But, reliever Ben Arnold was able to keep the opposing lineup at bay. He held them off long enough to allow the Pride to come back before the end of regulation. The team came back to tie it with three runs in the bottom of the sixth.
The game went into extra innings thanks to Ben Arnold’s five innings of no earned runs, two hits, one walk, and four strikeouts. From the eighth inning on, it was all first-year Alex Gonfrade, who pitched three perfect innings.
“(Arnold) did a great job – both him and our left-handed first-year did a nice job too at the end of the game,” Simeone said. “Those guys kept them at bay, and we found a way to win it.”
Due to the relievers’ ability to keep the game close, the offense was able to tie the game in an easier manner. The comeback started when Ryan Smith reached on an error. That miscue was followed by a Jack Cooney single, which was then followed by a Mike Barrett walk. Chad Shade delivered with the bases loaded on a single that was hit too hard to score multiple runs. After Noah Bleakley beat out a potential double play, Jake Gleason drove in two runs on a single to tie the game, 5-5.
Four innings later, a Springfield hitter started the inning off by reaching on an error once again. This time it was Adam Wilametz, and his pinch runner, Jimmy Shriner, was bunted over to third by Ryan Smith. With Cooney already 3-4 on the day, Williams decided to intentionally walk him. Mike Barrett was unintentionally walked for the fourth time that game in the plate appearance that followed. Then, on a soft ground ball to the shortstop, Williams was able to get an out at second, but could not get the speedy Shade out at first, resulting in a run and a win for Springfield, 6-5.
Game two was a bullpen game for the Pride. Due to an injury to one of their starters, Springfield started bullpen regular, John Daley. They did not have anyone pitch more than two innings on the back end of their doubleheader.
“John Daley has been a relief pitcher, so we pitched that second game with guys that have been conditioned the first five weeks of the season to be relievers, so there were no starters that pitched that second game,” Simeone said.
The combined efforts of Daley, Nick Naples, Ryan Lawrence, and Ian Benoit held Williams to three runs in the second game. Defense was a helping factor, as well, particularly when Cooney had an outfield assist on a single in the first inning. Springfield was errorless in both games for the second straight day, while Williams accounted for three errors in the first game and two in the second game.
Such errors sparked rallies for the Pride, particularly in the fifth inning of game two. Down 2-1, Cooney reached first on an error by the second baseman. After a Mike Barrett bunt to advance Cooney, Shade drove him in to tie the game on a single. Jake Gleason then drove in his third run on the day overall on a double to take the lead, 3-2.
In the bottom of the seventh, Springfield found itself in a familiar situation: tie game with an opportunity to walk it off. Cooney started the inning with a double down the left field line. He did not have to wait very long to score the winning run as Mike Barrett lined a single into left field to drive him in and win the game.
The team will take a well-earned break before they travel to Florida over Spring Break, where they will play seven games against various teams from March 15th through the 19th. They will return to Archie Allen Field on Saturday, March 21 to host another doubleheader – this one against Emerson – beginning at 12:00 p.m..
Photo courtesy of Joe Arruda