Westfield State Clinches Outright MASCAC Title

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WESTFIELD, Mass. – Westfield State University clinched sole possession of the 2017 Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference baseball title with a doubleheader sweep of Massachusetts Maritime Academy.   Westfield won the opener 10-2, and the night cap by a 6-3 score.

In the opener Westfield used two big innings to put the game away early.   The Owls tallied three runs in the first as sophomore outfielder Anthony Crowley (Bellingham, Mass.) powered a triple to right center field to lead off, Dan Rokitowsi (Ketcham/Wappingers Falls, NY) and John Lippincott (Northwest Regional / Barkhamsted, Conn.)  both walked.  Rokitowski scored from second base on a wild pitch that also advanced Lippincott to third base, and the he scored on Alex Lafayette's (Ludlow, Mass.) base hit.

Westfield scored seven runs in the third inning with an RBI double from Arismendy Larancuent (Westfield, Mass.) and a bomb of a 2-run home run to dead center field from Crowley, one of the longest blasts ever hit at Bud and Jim Hagan Field.

The Buccaneers got their two runs in the fifth inning, stringing together four straight base hits with an error, with Ethan O'Hare (Marshfield, Mass.) leading off with a single and scoring on Paul Sances (Middleboro, Mass.)  base hit later in the inning, and Nathan Anderson (East Longmeadow, Mass.) singled and scored when Logan Sullo (Bishop Stang/Achusnet, Mass.) reached on an error.

Westfield State starter Nate Marshall (Gilbert School/Winsted, Conn.) (5-1) pitched six innings to earn his fifth win of the season, scattering seven hits an allowing just one earned run.   He struck out four and did not walk a man.  Crowley and Lippincott each finished with a pair of hits and two RBI apiece.

Buccaneers' starter Andrew Auld (Wakefield, Mass.) (1-4) took the loss, working three innings and allowing eight hits and 10 runs (five earned).

In game two, Mass Maritime got on the board first, pushing two runs across in the top of the third inning on an RBI single from Sances and a groundout from Jake Petruzzelli (South Shore Voke/Abington, Mass.)  that scored Connor Kennedy (Pope John Paul/West Barnstable, Mass.) on the play.

Westfield got one run back in the bottom half of the third, then took the lead by scoring three times in the top of the fifth, the big blow a two-run triple from Lippincott that was misjudged in deep center field to give Westfield a 4-3 lead.   The Owls tacked on two more runs in the sixth with RBI base hits from Larancuent and Tyler Beach (Quincy, Mass.).

Larancuent was the lone Owl with a pair of hits, and scored two runs.  Westfield starting pitcher Ray Bell (Grafton/North Grafton, Mass.) (3-0) worked six innings, allowing four hits and two runs.  He struck out one while walking three, but allowed just two earned runs.  Sophomore Jamie Butler (Sacred Heart/Waterbury, Mass.)  picked up the final two outs to earn his first save of the season.

Maritime starter Matt Smith (Lowell, Mass.)  (1-2) took the loss, allowing four hits and four runs while fanning five over four innings.

Westfield State improves to 26-6, and finishes the MASCAC regular-season slate at 12-2, earning sole possession of the regular season title.  The Owls had previously clinched the top seed in the post season tournament, which will be played at Westfield's Bud and Jim Hagan Field on May 5, 6 and 7.  The Owls still have three non-conference games scheduled before the tourney begins.

Westfield State celebrated its senior day before the game, honoring the eight seniors on this season's team and their families.

Mass Maritime falls to 10-16 overall, 5-9 in the MASCAC.  The Buccaneers host UMaine-Presque Ilse on Saturday in a doubleheader.  Maritime awaits the results of other conference games this weekend to find out if they earn a bid to the MASCAC Tournament.