Chris Kendrick (@CKendrick86)
DUDLEY, Mass. – The sixth-seeded Elms College baseball squad defeated host third-seed Nichols College, 5-1, in the quarterfinals of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) DIII New England Championship at the Bison Baseball Field Wednesday afternoon.
The Blazers (32-12) advance to face second-seeded WPI in the semifinals Friday afternoon, while the Bison wrap their 2016 campaign with a 24-12 record. The Blazers will be making their second appearance in the ECAC Semifinal round, and their first trip to the final four since the 2013 season.
After three scoreless frames, the Blazers dealt their first blow as senior Nolan Medeiros (Taunton, Mass.) laced an RBI single to left field, scoring sophomore Dan Brunetti (Enfield, Conn.) from second base, to stake Elms to a 1-0 lead.
The Blazers added to their lead in the fifth inning as juniors Aedin Wadja (Lebanon, Conn.) and Stephen Harrison (Southbury, Conn.) cracked back-to-back singles, followed by a walk to freshman Tim Donahue (Westfield, Mass.) to load the bases. Junior Tim Gelzinis (North Dighton, Mass.) delivered a sacrifice fly to plate Wadja, and then Brunetti knocked an RBI single to right field, extending the Elms advantage to 3-0.
Nichols cracked the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth with sophomore Nick Roy (Middletown, Conn.) scoring on an RBI fielder's choice from sophomore Nick Osma (Babylon, N.Y.) to trim the Blazers lead to 3-1.
In the top of the ninth, Elms added a pair of insurance runs as Gelzinis scored on a dropped ball at home while executing a double steal, followed by Medeiros coming home on an RBI single from junior Brian Hungerford (New Preston, Conn.) to secure the 5-1 victory for the Blazers.
Elms senior Tom Weldon (Springfield, Mass.) was dominant on the hill to earn his 11th victory, tied for most wins in the nation. Weldon hurled his fourth complete game of the season, holding the Bison to one run on four hits with four strikeouts.
The Blazers cranked out 14 hits, led by Wadja who reached base in all five plate appearances with a 4-4 mark, along with a walk and a run scored. Gelzinis, Hungerford, Harrison, and freshman Alex Hoss (Stafford Springs, Conn.) all recorded two hits apiece, while Medeiros and Brunetti each drove in a run and scored.
Nichols junior Alex Rigney (4-5; Niantic, Conn.) took the loss, allowing three runs on eight hits with four strikeouts. Roy and senior Benjamin Harrow (North Reading, Mass.) logged two hits each for the Bison.
The Blazers will be back on the diamond Friday afternoon against the second-seeded Engineers at the New England Baseball Complex in Northborough. First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.