HOLYOKE, Mass. – The Elms College baseball team received two RBI from senior third baseman Nico Iavicoli (Hampden, Mass.) and senior left fielder Donny Morse (Alfred, Maine) and the Blazers fended off a late rally by Newbury College to post a 5-4 victory in Thursday evening's New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) baseball game at MacKenzie Stadium in Holyoke, Mass.
With the win, Elms improves to 7-12 overall, 4-2 in conference play, while Newbury falls to 13-12 on the season, 5-5 in league action. Elms and Newbury will play a pair of seven inning games on Saturday, April 7 to complete the series. Game times are set for 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. in Brookline, Mass.
Elms plated the first run of the game in the bottom of the first when senior center fielder Steve Fisher (West Boylston, Mass.) walked and then came around to score on an infield error.
Newbury answered in the top of the second when Corey Keane (Tolland, Conn.) connected for a double and then crossed the dish on an infield single by Cameron D'Agostino (Salisbury, Mass.) to tie the game at 1-1.
The Blazers threatened to take the lead in the bottom of the fourth when freshman right fielder Brady Forrest (Hampden, Mass.) reached on a fielder's choice and then stole second and advanced to third on an overthrow but was stranded 90 feet away as Newbury starter Travis Wade (Portland, Maine) struck out a batter and forced a line out to right field to end the inning with the score still set at 1-1.
Elms loaded the sacks in the bottom of the fifth frame and forged ahead when senior second baseman Andrew Kravontka (Manchester, Conn.) scored from third after Iavicoli was hit by a pitch to give Elms a 2-1 lead. Wade was lifted in favor of Lyndon Brundige (Rockland, Mass.) who then gave up a two-run single to Morse to extend the Blazers' advantage to 4-1. Brundige was able to get the Nighthawks out of the jam forcing a fly out and a groundout to keep Newbury's deficit at three runs.
Newbury loaded the bases in the top of the sixth frame but Leal kept the Nighthawks from cutting into the lead by forcing a foul out to end the inning.
After Kravontka scored Elms' fifth run of the game in the bottom of the sixth, Newbury returned the favor when Kyle Schiavone (Wethersfield, Conn.) was singled in by Michael Dwyer (Hamden, Conn.) who then advanced to second on a misplay in the outfield. Dwyer then came full circle on an RBI base hit by Patrick Curry (Hampstead, N.H.) to pull the Nighthawks to within two at 5-3. A sacrifice fly by Alex Chetelat (Farmington, Conn.) narrowed the gap to 5-4. Elms' sophomore Curtis LeBeau (Auburn, Mass.) entered in relief of Leal and was able to pick Newbury off at first to keep the tying run from scoring.
From there, LeBeau limited the Nighthawks to just three hits and despite giving up a double in the ninth inning, was able to force a pop out and a strikeout to secure his first save of the season.
Kravontka and Fisher scored two of the Blazers' five runs while Iavicoli, Morse, senior catcher Rey Rivera (San Juan, Puerto Rico), sophomore first baseman Zach Dreher (Naugatuck, Conn.) and sophomore shortstop Alex King (Lebanon, Conn.) accounted for Elms' five hits.
Dwyer was 3 for 5 with an RBI and a run scored for Newbury, while Michael Dean (Wethersfield, Conn.) and Steven Broy (Gorham, Maine) joined Schiavone with two hits each in the loss.
Leal pitched the first 6.1 to earn the win (3-1), while LeBeau tossed 2.2 scoreless innings of relief to earn the save.
Wade suffered the loss for the Nighthawks (2-3) but finished with four strikeouts.