NEW LONDON, Conn. – The New England College baseball team captures their first conference championship, follow a 2-1 final score in the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) championship game over perennial power, Mitchell College.
Score: New England College 2, Mitchell College 1
Records: Pilgrims (25-15, 10-6 NECC) | Mariners (34-8, 15-1 NECC)
HOW IT HAPPENED
Mitchell College drew a walk in the first inning before starting pitcher Stanley Varves induced an inning-ending double play to get out of the frame. In the top of the second inning, NEC got their first base runner after reaching on an error but he was stranded out on the bases. Mitchell threatened in the bottom of the second inning. Steven Pagan was hit by a pitch and reached third after a hit and run, but Vargas worked his way out of the inning with a fly out and a strikeout.
That momentum got the NEC bats going in the top of the third inning as Joe Maestu led-off the inning with a first-pitch single through the left side, but he was thrown out trying to reach on a bunt by Jameson Carey. Christian Aybar ripped a ball down the left field line that the third baseman made a play on but could not complete the play. Carey and Aybar reached second and third base with one out. Jimenez singled to right center field to score both runners and give NEC a 2-0 lead. Connor Morin grounded out to the first baseman to advance Jimenez to third. A fly out would end the inning and leave one runner stranded on base.
The leadoff hit batter gave Mitchell an opportunity to respond but a groundout, a fly out, and another groundout left a runner at second base. Both teams in the fourth inning had batters who put charges into balls but with the wind blowing in, both balls were routine fly outs, but no harm would come of this.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Steve Cochrane drew a walk before advancing to second base on the second out of the inning, before reaching third on a wild pitch. Pagan hit a high dribbler back up the middle, which passed Vargas. Jimenez ranging to his right fielded the ball and made a close play but Pagan reached base safely which cut the lead to 2-1. Mitchell put two balls in play down the left field line and the next down the right field line in the bottom of the seventh inning that forced Nick Powers to slide to make the catch and Evan Delaney laid out to make the second out of the inning.
Manuel Alejandro came on in relief of Vargas to start the bottom of the eighth inning and quickly got three fly outs to get to the ninth inning. A leadoff walk by Delaney and a single by Xavier Nunez got NEC threatening with runners on first and second in the top of the ninth inning. Atiles advanced the runners into scoring positions with a sacrifice bunt and an intentional walk of Nick Powers loaded the bases. However, a pick-off and a strikeout got Mitchell out of the jam. A fly out to center put NEC two outs away. A single gave Mitchell a baserunner however he was caught stealing when Atiles made a jumping tag, through his legs onto the baserunner. A groundout ended it and gave NEC their first conference championship in program history.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
-This was the fourth meeting all-time between the Pilgrims and Mariners. The two teams have now split the results.
-After Mitchell swept NEC in the regular season, the Pilgrims picked up wins in both meetings in the NECC playoffs.
-Freshman Anderson Jimenez was named tournament MVP after going 5-for-11 at the plate and drove in both runs in the clinching game for the Pilgrims.
-Nick Powers and Stanley Vargas were named to the NECC all-tournament team, along with Jimenez.
NCAA Division III Baseball Tournament