By Chris Gionta
The Springfield College baseball team was swept in a best-of-three series in the NEWMAC semifinals against Babson at Archie Allen Field, losing the first game 4-2, and the second game, 11-8.
Springfield knew that they had a tall task when facing Babson.
“I think when you think about a team like that, that two years ago finished third in the country in the College World Series, and the fact that we belonged on the same field as them,” said head coach Simeone. “They’re one of the top teams in our conference, one of the top teams in the region — I think they’re ranked 11th in the country according to Division III baseball. So, we belonged on the field with them and competed, but we got to get a little better.”
Springfield’s game one starting pitcher, Noah Bleakley, was looking the best he had been all year, allowing one base runner through his first four innings and striking out six. His counterpart was Babson’s Jordy Allard, who was coming in having allowed just three earned runs in 36.0 innings on the season, and also 43 strikeouts with only one walk. Neither team had a run through four innings.
In the fifth inning, Babson hit back-to-back doubles to score the first run of the game. After a single to put runners on the corners, the man on first went to steal, inducing a throw, then the man on third came home to make it a 2-0 game.
Springfield answered back in the top of the sixth inning (Springfield was the away team because they were the lower seed). After Conor Santoianni singled and Michael Barrett reached on an error, Andrew McCarty bunted the two over to second and third base. Following that was a sacrifice fly by Jack Cooney to make it 2-1.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Babson’s first two batters reached via walk. They eventually came around to score after a series of ground balls and one single.
In the top of the seventh inning, Jack Simonetty sent a solo home run over the left center field wall to bring Springfield within two. That was their last base runner of the game, as each bullpen shut it down for the rest of the contest. Babson took Game 1, 4-2.
In Game 2, each starter put up a scoreless first frame. In the bottom of the second, each of Babson’s first five batters reached base. After a flyout, the next three also reached base. Six runs scored through this series of hits and walks.
The Pride were held scoreless for the first four innings but then began to chip away. Regular starter, Mitch Wright, threw four scoreless innings with only one hit from the fourth to the seventh inning, giving a window for Springfield to come back.
In the fifth inning, the Pride scored two runs via a Barrett RBI double and a Cooney RBI single. In the seventh, they scored one run via a Bleakley RBI single. Then, in the eighth, Springfield took advantage of Babson’s mistakes, as they scored via two errors to make it a one-run ballgame.
But, in the bottom of the eighth inning, Babson’s offense was back in it, scoring five runs in the bottom of the eighth to give them a six-run lead.
However, this did not discourage Springfield. After a flyout and a Cadin Maynard hit-by-pitch, Simonetty hit an RBI double, then he was driven in on a Joe Traversa triple. Later on, he was brought in on a Santoianni sacrifice fly. But, Babson stopped the rally at 11-8, which was the score they won by.
Coach Simeone sees the Pride’s hard-fought battle with Babson as inspiration for what can possibly come.
“It’s a measuring stick,” said Simeone. “That’s a top team in New England. We can play with them, now what do we have to do to be one of them?”
This question will be living with Simeone along with the rest of the team and being acted on over the next 10 months until the next first pitch is thrown in the following March.
Photo: Joe Arruda