NEW LONDON, Conn. – Senior third baseman Mike Slaby (Foxborough, Mass.) hit a walk-off grand slam to lift fourth-seeded Lesley University to a 10-6 victory over top-seeded Mitchell College in the title game of the 2017 New England Collegiate Conference Baseball Championship on Monday afternoon at Alumni Field.
The homer capped a six-run ninth inning in which the Lynx erased a two-run deficit. Down to its final two outs, Lesley strung together four consecutive singles to tie the game. After Mitchell picked up the second out on a force play at home, Slaby hit a 1-1 pitch over the left-field fence to give the Lynx their first-ever conference tournament title. He was named the most valuable player of the tournament.
Lesley (21-17-1 overall) knocked off Mitchell for the second time in three days and finished 3-0 in the tournament. The Lynx are the first-ever four seed to win the NECC crown and have earned the conference's automatic berth in the NCAA Championship. It is also the first time in NECC history that one institution won both the baseball and softball championships in the same year. The Lynx softball program upset the number one seed Newbury College with a 3-0 victory yesterday.
The Mariners (29-13 overall) twice built up leads of three runs but saw the Lynx fight back each time. Lesley didn't hold a lead in the contest until Slaby's homer ended the game.
Mitchell scored a run in the first inning on an RBI single by Garet Griffin (Moosup, Conn.) and added two more in the second. Markus Melendez (Storrs, Conn.) led off the frame with a solo homer to right-center, and Kyle Hartenstein (Meriden, Conn.) later singled through the right side to make it 3-0.
Lesley clawed back into the game one run at a time. The Lynx plated a run in the second on a sacrifice fly by Nicholas Ferragine (Randolph, N.J.) and added another in the third on a ground out by Matthew Warner (San Diego, Calif.). Matthew Bavaro (Sayville, N.Y.) led off the fifth with a pinch-hit double and then scored on a double by Steven DePalma (Albertson, N.Y.) to make it a 3-3 game.
Mitchell struck for three runs in the eighth inning to vault back into the lead. The Mariners loaded the bases with no outs and scored the go-ahead run courtesy of a Lesley fielding error. The Lynx then walked in the second run before Hartenstein made it 6-3 with a sacrifice fly to center.
Lesley got a run back in the home half of the eighth on an RBI single by Jacob Cervantes (Oxnard, Calif.). The Lynx then kept the deficit at two in the top of the ninth after Mitchell put runners on first and third with one out. Lesley got out of the inning unscathed by picking up the final two outs—both at home—on a ground ball to the pitcher and a double steal attempt.
Mitchell reliever Bryce Bedard (Ledyard, Conn.), who entered the game in the fifth, came out to start the ninth. He struck out the first batter before Vincent Taliercio (Valley Stream, N.Y.) reached on a fielding error. DePalma singled to put the tying run on base, and Ryan Pumphret (Shrewsbury, Mass.) and Warner followed with RBI singles to tie the game at 6-6.
A single by J.P. Agiorgousis (Hanscom AFB, Mass.) loaded the bases with one out and put the winning run 90 feet away. The Mariners then turned to Axel De Jesus (Stratford, Conn.) for the final two outs, and the right-hander got the next batter to hit a grounder to short for the force play at home. Slaby then stepped to the plate and delivered his second homer of the season to give Lesley the win.
In addition to Slaby, Tom Muratore (Mamaroneck, N.Y.) and Nick Iadevaio (Mineola, N.Y.) were named to the All-Tournament Team. Each made a pair of appearances on the hill for the Lynx and picked up a win and a save.
Griffin, Melendez and Tyler Pina (Plainville, Conn.) represented Mitchell on the All-Tournament Team. Griffin batted .500 and had the most hits in the tournament (9). Melendez also hit .500 and finished with a double, two homers and four RBI, while Pina hit .429 with two homers and a tournament-best nine RBI.
2017 NECC All-Tournament Team
Niko Bedell, Becker College
Kevin Perez, Becker College
Tim Gelzinis, Elms College
Stephen Harrison, Elms College
Garet Griffin, Mitchell College
Markus Melendez, Mitchell College
Tyler Pina, Mitchell College
Nick Iadevaio, Lesley University
Tom Muratore, Lesley University
Mike Slaby (MVP), Lesley University