BABSON PARK, Mass.—Senior Mark Webber (Norwell, Mass.) hit a go-ahead home run in the bottom of the eighth inning as top-seeded Babson College rallied to defeat third-seeded Wheaton College, 6-3, in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament winner's bracket game on Saturday afternoon at Govoni Field.
Winners of 10 straight games, Babson improves to 31-10 overall and advances to Sunday's championship game. Wheaton (22-16) will take on Clark in an elimination game later on Saturday.
Seniors Ryan Arena (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) and David Lennon (Windermere, Fla.) and sophomores Matthew Valente (Wyckoff, N.J.) and Sean Harrington (Walpole, Mass.) all finished with two hits apiece for the Beavers. Senior John Floegel (Summit, N.J.) struck out seven while giving up three runs on five hits over seven innings. junior Max Tannenbaum (Coral Springs, Fla.) worked a perfect eighth to pick up his first win of the season, while senior Matt Cuneo (Ashland, Mass.) worked around a hit batsman in the ninth for his fourth save.
Sophomore Nick Raposo (Johnston, R.I.) went 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored and junior Jared Sharkey (West Bridgewater, Mass.) hit a two-run homer for the Lyons. Senior Dan Southerland (Dartmouth, Mass.) was superb over 7.0 innings allowing just two runs on eight hits in a no-decision. Sophomore Zach Pipa (Rumford, R.I.) started the eighth but was lifted after giving up three runs and three hits without recording an out.
Trailing 3-2 going to the bottom of the eighth, Babson scored four times in the frame. Arena led off with a sharp single to right and Webber followed with a two-run blast to right center for a 4-3 lead. Harrington singled to chase Pipa (1-2), Valente reached with a base hit to right off first-year Patrick Arter (Lakeville, Mass.) and both would later score when sophomore Jake Oliger's (Newtown, Conn.) grounder was misplayed to extend the margin to 6-3.
Wheaton took a 1-0 lead in the first when senior Matt Cook (Harwich, Mass.) led off with a single and later scored on Raposo's one-out knock to left. The Green and White pulled even in the second though, as Lennon drilled a two-out single to right to bring in Harrington.
Junior Brian McHale (Ramsey, N.J.) drove in classmate Eric Jaun (Loveland, Ohio) with a two-out single to give the Beavers a 2-1 advantage in the fourth that would last until Sharkey's two-run homer with one out in the sixth put the Lyons back in front 3-2. Floegel, who didn't allow a hit between the second and fifth innings, retired 14 of 17 batters before giving up a lead-off single to Raposo in the sixth.
Babson, which last won back-to-back conference titles in 1996 and 1997, will take on either Clark or Wheaton on Sunday at 11 a.m.
• The Beavers have now won eight of their last nine games against Wheaton and are
• Webber's homer was the 18th of his career and his fifth in six NEWMAC Tournament games over the last two seasons.
• Babson has won six consecutive conference tournament games and improves to 21-1 at home going back to April 22 of last season.
• With eight strikeouts on Saturday, the Beavers' pitching staff has fanned 287 batters this season to surpass the program's previous single-season record of 280 set back in 2002.