NEW LONDON, Conn. – Elms College sophomore starter Andrew Sadowski (Northampton, Mass.) struck out four batters in 8.1 innings of work and the Blazers plated two runs to tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning, but Mitchell College rallied for six runs in the top of the ninth inning as the top-seed Mariners bested the fourth-seeded Blazers, 8-4 in Saturday afternoon's New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) Championship tournament game at Alumni Field.
With the loss, Elms concludes its season 13-20 overall. Mitchell improves to 21-12-1 and advances to face Becker College in tournament action on Sunday, May 4.
In a game that featured tremendous pitching through seven innings, Mitchell notched the first run of the contest in the top of the second inning when Neftali Arroyo (New Haven, Conn.) reached on a fielder's choice, advanced to second on a groundout and then scored when Blaze Iannetti (Middlesex, N.J.) singled to shortstop which forced an errant throw to the plate to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead.
Mitchell added to its lead in the top of the eighth inning when Rafael Garcia (New Britain, Conn.) launched a two-out home run to left field to extend the lead to 2-0.
The Blazers answered with two runs in the home half of the stanza when sophomore shortstop Nolan Medeiros (Taunton, Mass.) reached on a one-out walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and then raced to third on a single through the left side by senior catcher Zach Dreher (Naugatuck, Conn.). Senior designated hitter Sam Farnsworth (Westfield, Mass.) connected for a base hit to right center field sending Dreher to third and Medeiros home with Elms' first run. Junior third baseman Geoff Frost (Ludlow, Mass.) then ripped the game-tying base hit through the left side to set the score at 2-2. Mitchell starter Al Jordan Johnson (Lancaster, Calif.) was lifted in favor of Troy Stango (Holland, Mich.) and he forced a fly out and a ground out to end the inning with the school even.
In the top of the ninth, Mitchell rallied for six runs on back-to-back RBI singles from Gavin LaLima (Waterford, Conn.) and Marc Dorsi (West Haven, Conn.) and a two-run base hit from Evan Peck (Shelton, Conn.) to set the score at 6-2. Another run scored on a wild pitch and Garcia drove in Peck with a sacrifice fly before Blazers' junior reliever Sean Sinnott (Granby, Conn.) induced an inning-ending groundout with the score set at 8-2 in favor of the Mariners.
With two away in the bottom of the ninth stanza, Elms conducted a rally of its own as junior center fielder Brady Forrest (Hampden, Mass.) ripped a double to left field, advanced to third on an infield hit by Medeiros, and the Blazers loaded the bases on a walk to Dreher. Junior pinch-hitter Kevin Dwire (Ellington, Conn.) delivered an RBI base hit to left field and Frost followed with a base hit of his own into center field to pull Elms to within four at 8-4, but Stango forced the Blazers to hit into a game-ending fielder's choice and seal the hard-fought victory.
Frost finished 3 for 5 with two RBI, while Dreher and freshman first baseman Jordan Zima (Berlin, Conn.) added two hits each. Forrest and sophomore second baseman Aedin Wadja (Lebanon, Conn.) notched doubles in the losing effort.
Sadowski suffered the loss and moves to 3-4 on the season, while Stango earned the victory for the Mariners to improve to 4-0 on the hill following his 1.2 innings of relief work.
Johnson pitched the first 7.1 innings and allowed two runs on eight hits with a strikeout.
LaLima was 4 for 4 at the plate, while Peck and Iannetti added two hits each. Peck and Garcia drove in two runs apiece to highlight Mitchell's offensive output.