On Friday, April 18 in Springfield, Mass. parents of the Springfield College baseball team gathered at Berry-Allen Field to celebrate their sons’ Senior Day victory. Nothing on that warm afternoon could have outweighed the feeling of defeating the WPI Engineers in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference with a walk-off win of 3-2, propelling the Pride with enough momentum to spark a three-game sweep over WPI, in turn, leading to the No. 2 overall seed in the NEWMAC Championship tournament.
With this win, Springfield advanced to 14-11 (8-7, NEWMAC) while WPI simultaneously dropped to 16-12 (9-6, NEWMAC).
Some standout performances included Travis Lane, who pitched a no-hitter until the sixth inning, where he allowed two hits and one run to sneak by. Matt Butrym entered the game and pitched a total of 2.1 innings. In the ninth inning, Peter Baranski stood strong on the mound, allowing only one hit.
After the Engineers evened up the game in the top of the ninth, the Pride players stepped up and made it their priority not to lose their Senior Day game. Leadoff hitter, Jared Hopkins, responded to the taunting tie with a single into right field. Billy Paskowski advanced him to second on a sac bunt.
“When it came to the Senior Day game, I just wanted to get the win. I didn’t care how it happened; I just wanted to grab a win to have momentum heading into the weekend,” Hopkins explained. “Also, I wanted to get the ‘W’ for my fellow seniors and our families who came out to support us.”
In a scramble to avoid giving the Pride an opportunity for a double-play ball, WPI intentionally walked Steve Starr. However, a sloppy Engineer pitch advanced both Starr and Hopkins during the next at-bat. Another intentional walk taken by Frank Calabrese loaded the bases.
The Pride was not going to let this opportunity pass them by. Whether it was a hit, a walk or a steal, they were going to win this game…and that’s what they did. Hopkins strategically utilized a wild pitch. He made a lightning fast judgment to steal home plate and he succeeded. Hopkins was swarmed by his fellow teammates and tackled to the field in celebration.
In his 17th season, coach Mark Simeone explained his strategy for producing a team of strong, successful leaders.
“We do not have captains this year. We have tried to set a standard of accountability among all of our players,” Simeone said. “Personal accountability has enabled credible leadership within our team.”
Three days after Springfield’s victory over WPI, secret-weapon relief pitcher, Peter Baranski, was named the NEWMAC Baseball Pitcher of the Week.
Baranski exhibited an impressive set of skills during a three-game sweep over the Engineers. He helped the Pride earn the No. 2 seed in the upcoming tournament.
This tight-knit group of baseball players exemplifies the techniques and strategies taught to them by Simeone. They exude confidence, leadership and mental toughness, which is something that the upperclassmen have relayed to the rest of the team.
“I tell the younger guys that it is all about confidence and I [encourage them] to play the game the way they know, and results will follow,” said Hopkins.