HOLYOKE, Mass. – Elms College sophomore first baseman Anthony Pagano (Cranston, R.I.) was 3 for 4 with an RBI in game one, but Becker College's Tom Natoli (Suffern, N.Y.) collected three hits in each game and drove in a combined three runs to help pace the Hawks to a double-header sweep of the Blazers, 9-4 and 11-3 in Saturday afternoon's New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) baseball twinbill at MacKenzie Stadium in Holyoke, Mass.
With the losses, Elms falls to 4-11 overall, 2-2 in league play, while Becker improves to 8-5 overall, 5-0 in NECC action. The teams will conclude the series on Sunday, March 25 at 12:00 p.m. in Leicester, Mass.
In game one, Becker scratched across four runs in the top of the second inning when the Hawks loaded the bases to start the frame and Natoli singled in Weston Meehan (West Haven, Conn.) to start the scoring. Keon Jenkins (New Haven, Conn.) followed with a two-run base hit to left field before Joseph Corey (Billerica, Mass.) capped the scoring in the stanza an infield single that plated Natoli to give Becker a 4-0 lead.
Elms answered in the bottom of the second when junior center fielder Steve Fisher (West Boylston, Mass.) connected for a run-scoring single followed by a two-run poke into center by sophomore right fielder Alex King (Lebanon, Conn.) to pull the Blazers to within one at 4-3.
Neither side registered a run for the next three innings until Becker plated three runs in the top of the sixth. A two-run double by Eric Lajoie (Oakham, Mass.) and an RBI infield single by Corey lifted the Hawks lead to 7-3.
Elms got a run back in the home half of the sixth when Pagano came through with a two-out RBI double scoring sophomore Felix Montalvo (Carolina, Puerto Rico) who entered as a pinch-runner in the inning to set the score at 9-4.
Becker added a pair of runs in the top of the seventh on a Mike Smith (Warner, N.H.) sacrifice fly and Rasheen Green (New Haven, Conn.) scored on an infield error to help the Hawks seal a 9-4 victory.
Becker starter Mike Schoen (Yorktown, N.Y.) tossed the first four innings and earned the win (1-1), while Elms' senior left-hander Andrew Bunger (Southington, Conn.) suffered the loss (0-2) after tossing 5.2 innings on the hill.
Corey, Meehan and Natoli each registered multiple hits in game one, while Corey, Jenkins and Lajoie each drove in two runners.
King finished with two RBI in the loss, while Fisher and sophomore second baseman Zach Dreher (Naugatuck, Conn.) each went 2 for 3 in the game with a run scored.
In game two, the Hawks posted a 5-0 lead through the first 3.5 innings on the strength of a two-run double by Todd Tompkins (West Haven, Conn.) in the first and an RBI double to center in the third. Meehan added a run-scoring single in the third and Austin Phillips (Thomson, Ga.) drove in a runner on a sacrifice fly to give Becker a 5-0 lead.
An RBI double by Elms' senior left fielder Donny Morse (Alfred, Maine) drove in Pagano from first in the bottom of the fourth, but Becker answered with two more in the top of the fifth as Natoli homered to right center plating two runs in the process to give the Hawks a 7-1 advantage.
Four more runs in the top of the seventh highlighted by a pinch-hit RBI single by Lamar Moreis (Edgartown, Mass.) and an RBI groundout by Green lifted Becker's cushion to 11-1.
The Blazers scored twice in the bottom of the seventh thanks to an RBI groundout by senior catcher Sean Shanley (Bristol, Conn.) and a base hit to left by senior shortstop Nico Iavicoli (Hampden, Mass.) to set the score at 11-3.
Trent Gibson (Henderson, Nev.) pitched a complete game to improve to 3-0, allowing three runs (one earned) on five hits while striking out three batters. Elms junior right-handed starter Ryan Burnette (Chicopee, Mass.) suffered the loss (1-3) in five innings of work.
Tompkins, Natoli and Mike Marcello (West Haven, Conn.) drilled three hits each for the Hawks, while Tompkins drove in three runs in the win.