NEW LONDON, Conn. – Top-seeded Mitchell College claimed the 2018 New England Collegiate Conference Baseball Championship on Sunday afternoon at Alumni Field, erasing a three-run deficit to beat second-seeded Lesley University by a 7-4 final.
The Mariners (30-8 overall) trailed 3-0 after three innings but cut into the deficit with two runs in the fifth. Mitchell pulled ahead behind a five-run sixth inning, taking the lead for good on a two-run homer by Eric Marriott. Reliever Bryce Bedard kept the Lynx off the scoreboard until the ninth, and Roland Thivierge nailed down the final three outs to secure the win.
Mitchell has won six NECC titles, including four in the past five seasons under head coach Travis Beausoleil. The Mariners also earned the conference's automatic NCAA berth for the fifth time since 2011. The NCAA will release the entire 58-team field on May 13.
Mitchell's Jeremy Santos was named tournament MVP after batting a team-high .538 with a double, homer, four RBI and four runs scored over the weekend. He had two hits and scored a run in the title game.
Things got off to a bumpy start for the Mariner as Lesley jumped on top 1-0 in the top of the first inning. Will Rhone led off the game with a single and later scored from second base on a base hit to right by Justin Clark. The Lynx nearly added to the lead on a deep fly ball by Vincent Taliercio, but Santos made a catch at the fence in left field.
Lesley starter Brett Dabrowski worked his way out of a tough spot in the home half of the first. The Mariners loaded the bases with no outs but couldn't push across a run, as Dabrowski got a double play and a comebacker to the mound to escape the jam.
A leadoff double by Jack Finnegan—the 100th hit of his career—and a wild pitch gave the Mariners a runner at third with no outs in the second. Dabrowski once again wiggled out of trouble without allowing a run, getting a line out, fly out and ground out to keep Lesley's one-run lead intact.
Mitchell starter Bryton Ferris ran into trouble in the third, walking the leadoff batter before giving up a base hit to Rhone. After both runners advanced on a ground ball, Clark brought them around with a single to left-center to make it a 3-0 game.
Later in the frame, a defensive gem by Marriott took away potential runs and swung the momentum back to Mitchell. With two runners on, Taliercio drove a ball into the left-center gap that Marriott snagged with a sprawling dive. He then got up in time to relay to third, catching the runner trying to advance a base to end the inning.
The Mariners stranded a runner in scoring position in the fourth as Dabrowski erased a lead-off walk by retiring the next three batters. Mitchell finally broke through in the fifth as Santos doubled down the left-field line and scored on a two-out single by Kyle Hartenstein. Steven Pagan later drew a bases-loaded walk to plate another run to cut the deficit back to one at 3-2.
A pair of home runs got Mitchell going in the sixth. Peter Abate tied the game with a leadoff homer down the left-field line, his second of the season. Three batters later, Marriott blasted a two-run shot to give the Mariners their first lead of the day, just clearing the fence in right to make it 5-3. Griffin then tacked on an RBI double and Finnegan added an RBI single to pump the lead to four.
Bedard, who retired nine straight batters at one point, set the Lynx down in order in the eighth. He came out to start the ninth but gave up a solo homer to Taliercio. Thivierge came in to secure the final three outs and got a ground ball to second base to end the game.
Bedard (6-0 overall) picked up the win, yielding one run on three hits while striking out four over 5.2 innings of relief. Thivierge earned his third save of the season.
Dabrowski allowed two runs on six hits over 4.2 innings. Tom Muratore was tagged with the loss (9-2 overall) after surrendering two runs on two hits in 0.1 innings of work.
Lesley ended the season with a record of 27-11.
NECC All-Tournament Team
Andy Vasquez, Elms
Ben Ross, Elms
Coby Hussey, Becker
Tanyon Ventres, Becker
Nick Iadevaio, Lesley
Justin Clark, Lesley
Nicholas Ferragine, Lesley
Kyle Hartenstein, Mitchell
Garet Griffin, Mitchell
MVP—Jeremy Santos, Mitchell