The Springfield College baseball team won three of their first four games down in Florida this week. In that stretch, the offense plated 32 runs, creating a run differential of +16. Especially in the team’s last two games, the bats have come alive. Before traveling south, head coach Mark Simeone preached consistency at the plate as the key to the team’s success in Florida.
“We gotta be more consistent offensively, be able to cash in when runners are on base, and be intelligently aggressive,” said Simeone after the Pride’s 4-2 loss to Westfield State on March 5th.
Day 1 (March 11 vs UMass Dartmouth)
Springfield kicked off its week with a double header against UMass-Dartmouth (two seven-inning games). In Game 1, a two-run seventh inning lifted the Pride to a 3-1 victory.
Going into the last inning at a 1-1 stalemate, Springfield broke through with two runs. Initially, it seemed the rally was dead when Brandon Russo grounded into a double play with men on first and second and no outs.
However, Chad Shade came up and laced a double, scoring Kyle Allen from third. Pete Marsicano, the next batter, poked a single through the right side to score Shade. Cole Donovan, who relieved Johnson in the sixth, retired the Corsairs in the seventh to earn the win.
In addition to his single in the seventh, Marsicano opened up the scoring in the third inning with an RBI double as part of a 2-4 game. Shade finished 2-3 with a walk.
Although Springfield mustered just four hits throughout the game, they were very timely.
On the mound, Brian Johnson put together another strong start. Aside a home run he gave up in the third inning, he made practically zero mistakes and steered clear from any high leverage situations. Donovan was brilliant once again, surrendering just one hit in 1.2 innings of relief.
In Game 2, a costly error in the sixth inning gave the Corsairs the winning run as the Pride fell 3-2. Shawn Babineau got the start, and gave up a run in the second off of a triple. UMass-Dartmouth tacked on another in the fourth with a sac fly.
Springfield responded in the bottom half, plating two runs and tying the game. Mark Joao led off with a solo home run, his first of the season. Jake Gleason followed that up with a double, and came around to score on two consecutive balks.
In top of the sixth, Babineau retired the first two hitters, before inducing a grounder that could have gotten Springfield out of the inning. However, Jason Bean miscalculated his throw and the runner advanced to second on the error. After that, Jack Weinberger came in to relieve Babineau, and eventually surrendered a single that drove home the winning run.
Offensively, freshmen Jack Cooney and Connor Santoianni both had two-hit days, while Joao accounted for the only RBI with his home run. Babineau gave up two earned runs on five hits while striking out eight in the loss. Weinberger gave up two hits in his 1.1 innings of relief.
Day 2 (March 12 vs Stockton)
Springfield faced Stockton the next day, and fought back from an 8-0 deficit to defeat the Ospreys, 13-11. Joe Gamache started the game, and surrendered seven earned runs on seven hits while walking four batters. After recording two outs in third second inning, he left the mound with an 8-0 deficit.
The Pride responded with four runs in the third inning to cut the Ospreys lead in half. Chade Shade led off with a walk, and came around to score on a wild pitch. After two consecutive singles, Kyle Allen drove in the second run with an RBI single. Later in the inning, freshman David Wells hit a two-out bases loaded single to drive in two more.
Stockton came back in the top of the fourth and tacked on another run to make it 9-4.
In the bottom half, Springfield loaded the bases again. This time, Noah Bleakley came through with a two RBI single that made it 9-7. Mark Joao touched home in the next at-bat off of a wild pitch, then Kyle Allen drove in Bleakley. Cam Rivest, the next batter, hit a single through the right side to score Allen and tie the game at nine.
Duncan Satterlee entered with two outs in the fourth, and quieted Stockton’s bats until his exit in the eighth inning. The freshman went four innings, giving up three hits and striking out three in his scoreless collegiate debut.
In the bottom of the eighth, Springfield tallied four runs to take a commanding 13-9 lead. After a triple from Joao with one out, Gleason doubled to drive him in. The next batter, Bleakley, reached on an error that scored Gleason from second. Bleakley and Rivest came around to score later in the inning from passed balls.
In the ninth inning, Fletcher Comment surrendered two runs, but picked up his second win of the year in relief.
Joao finished the game 4-4 with three runs. Gleason, Bleakley and Allen each went 2-5 collectively driving in five runs. Rivest and Wells each went 2-4, tallying one and two RBI respectively.
Day 3 (March 13 vs Gordon)
Most recently, the offense continued to produce en route to a 14-1 win over Gordon in seven innings. The Pride scored in each of those innings except for second.
Joao put in another superb day at the plate. He belted his second home run of the year in the fourth, and hit a bases loaded triple in the fifth. He finished 3-4 with four RBI and three runs. Chad Shade and Brandon Russo each tallied two more hits, as Shade drove in one with a single in the sixth. Russo also had an RBI single in the third as part of a three run inning. Over 10 players registered hits for Springfield in this game.
Nick Naples got his first start of the year and did not disappoint. He pitched five clean innings, surrendering just two hits while striking out six batters. Similar to Johnson’s start on Sunday, Naples did not make any mistakes and kept his pitch count relatively low.
Kenny Walton came in for the last two innings and gave Gordon their only run of the game. He gave up a single and a double, which scored the runner from first to start the seventh inning. The junior came back to strike out the next three batters to end the game and strand the runner on second.
With these games, Springfield improves to 4-2-1 on the year.
Looking at this stretch of games, the performance of the first year players has been exceptional. Stockton seemed to pounce on every pitcher Springfield put out there until Satterlee entered. He showed the poise of an upperclassman being able to work a substantial amount of innings out of the ‘pen and put his team in the position to take the lead.
Additionally, Jack Cooney continues to impress. In the loss to UMass-Dartmouth, he and Connor Santoianni provided over half of the hits for the offense. Both of them created run scoring opportunities, and that’s all Simeone can ask for from his youngsters.
Noah Bleakley and David Wells are two others who are showing promise. They both drove in a pair against Stockton, and Bleakey tallied two more RBI against Gordon. Bleakley’s hit against Stockton sparked the inning in which Springfield tied the game. Wells’ hit came with two outs and the bases loaded.
With all of this early production from the underclassmen, Simeone gains flexibility when shaping his lineups and pitching strategies.
Errors are a glaring statistic that the Pride need to correct as the season progresses. Just in this four game stretch, the team has committed seven errors. Luckily, Springfield has not suffered too much, but it will start affecting them sooner than later if it continues to happen.
Granted, it is still the beginning of the season. Surely Simeone will have his team essentially error free once playoff time rolls around, but it is rare that a college team would commit ten errors in their first seven games of the season.
The Emergence of Chad Shade
Before traveling to Florida, Shade went just 2-14 (.143) with four strikeouts and zero RBI in three games. This week, he more than doubled his hit total, going 5-11 (.455) with two RBI and just one strikeout. He has shown greater patience, drawing four walks. Shade also swiped a couple bags as a result of getting on base at a better clip.
As the leadoff hitter, Shade sets the table for the heart of the lineup. His ability to get on base is imperative for offensive success. His speed on the base paths makes him a threat to steal, which creates run scoring opportunities for the hitters behind him.
This version of Shade is much more enjoyable to watch than the pre-Florida version.
Springfield is playing some great baseball so far this week. The offense has exploded, and the pitching has been great, aside from Gamache’s start. They have five more games to play before traveling back to Mass. On Wednesday, they face Eastern Connecticut State at 1:30 p.m..