The Springfield College baseball team swept Western New England in a doubleheader on Saturday at Archie Allen Field. They won the first game, 5-1, and the second game, 4-0.
As the old adage goes, throwing and catching is two thirds of the game. It proved to be very important at Archie Allen Field on Saturday, as one team was clearly executing those parts of the game better. And according to Head Coach Mark Simeone, that is why Springfield was able to win.
“We played good defense,” Coach Simeone said. “We threw and caught the ball better than they did, and when they didn’t do it, we took advantage of it.”
While Western New England committed three errors in each game, the Pride were error-free all day. One player who was particularly good with the glove on Saturday was second baseman Ryan Smith. Nothing was able to get by him, partly due to his willingness to slide and dive for ground balls.
Defense like this helped out the pitchers, who were magnificent in their own right. Game 1 starter, Noah Bleakley, allowed just one run through four innings and struck out five. Despite this very good display, his reliever, Jacob Shpur, was able to top his teammate. He went three hitless innings and allowed just one base runner.
“We pitched extremely well; we went after the hitters; we were ahead in counts–” Coach Simeone said. “Outstanding pitching performances by both starters. Shpur was throwing strikes and challenging hitters. And that’s what we talk about all the time with our pitchers — we got guys who can pitch, so they gotta pitch with confidence and trust the guys behind them and I think we did that today.”
Bleakley allowed his only run in the first inning, then the staff held Western New England scoreless for the rest of the day. Springfield tied it in the 2nd on a Ryan Smith RBI single, then took the lead in the third, when Jack Cooney got himself out of a pickle by scoring the second run of the game. In the fourth inning, Cooney continued his dominant game by hitting an RBI double that drove in Joe Traversa from first base. Then, on a fielding error from the Western New England shortstop, Cooney scored from second to make the score 4-1. Cooney would then score his third run of the game on a Mike Barrett single to make it 5-1.
In Game 2, the Pride would only need one run to win the game, despite scoring four. This was largely due to starting pitcher Mitch Wright’s performance on the mound. Western New England could not get the barrel part of the bat on the ball against him. 11 of Wright’s 21 outs came via the ground ball. Many of these ground balls came early in counts, which ensured that Wright could go deep into the game. Because doubleheader games only go seven innings, he was able to throw a complete game while throwing only 74 pitches. He allowed just two hits, and did not walk or hit anyone in his shutout.
“Mitch was so efficient today and got after guys, and was ahead in so many counts, didn’t waste pitches — really made quality pitches,” Coach Simeone said. “He pitched a complete game with a number of pitches that we anticipated most guys might pitch four or five innings with.”
Wright got all of his run support in one inning, which were highly driven by Western New England’s mistakes. After Conor Santoianni and Ryan Smith reached on errors, Jack Cooney hit an infield single that drove in Santoianni. A fielding error on that play allowed Cooney to reach second and Smith to reach third. This gave Mike Barrett the opportunity to drive in both of them on a single, which is exactly what he did. After Barrett stole second base, he was driven in by Noah Bleakley on a double down the left field line.
That would be all of the scoring from the Studbolts, but that did not stop them from making the opposing pitchers work extremely hard. They did not go down easily.
“In the second part of the second game, we had some very t ough at-bats, and just grinded out and fought off tough pitches, had long at-bats–” Coach Simeone said. “And that demoralizes a guy that’s on the mound. When he’s gotta throw eight or nine pitches to a batter and then he doesn’t get him out, that’s tough.”
In Game 2 of the doubleheader, Western New England’s pitchers threw 150 pitches in six innings, which is 25 per inning.
Springfield looks to carry the momentum of their three-game win streak over to Sunday, where they will be playing another doubleheader at Archie Allen Field. It will be against Williams College, with the first game starting at 12 p.m.
Photo courtesy of Joe Arruda