HOLYOKE, Mass. – The Elms College baseball team split a double-header against New England Collegiate Conference foe Newbury College on Saturday afternoon, taking a dramatic 3-2, 8-inning victory in game one before falling 5-3 in game two.
The Blazers (10-20, 6-8 NECC) and Nighthawks (12-19, 6-9 NECC) will wrap up the three-game series with the rubber-game on Sunday at noon, hosted by Newbury.
GAME 1 - Elms 3, Newbury 2 (8 Innings)
Nathan Ayala's second walk-off hit in three games lifted the Blazers to their sixth win in eight games to open the day. With the score tied 2-2 and two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Ayala blasted a single to center that scored pinch-runner Matt Mullen to end the game.
The Blazers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning with singles from Andy Vasquez, Ben Ross and Thomas Slane and an RBI groundout from Alex Hoss. Blazer pitcher Thomas Owens was able to keep Elms in in the lead through five innings but the Nighthawks tagged him for two runs to tie the game in the top of the sixth.
After a scoreless seventh, the game entered extra innings where Ayala came up with the game-winning hit. Ayala also hit an eighth-inning game-winning single in a 3-1 win over Southern Vermont on April 17.
Cody Fisher picked up the win for Elms after tossing two scoreless innings, allowing just two hits. Owens went 6.0 innings and racked up eight strikeouts against just two walks and four hits. Only one of the two runs he allowed was earned. Ayala and Ross each went 2-for-4 at the plate for Elms.
Javi Martinez led Newbury offensively, going 2-for-4 with an RBI. Jim McGrorry pitched the whole 7.2 innings for the Nighthawks, allowing nine hits and three earned runs while recording one strikeout in the loss.
GAME 2 – Newbury 5, Elms 3
The top five batters in the Newbury lineup all had multi-hit performances and all nine Nighthawks hitters collected at least one hit as the Nighthawks earned a split with a 5-3 win in game two.
Newbury out-hit Elms 14-4 in the contest as Brian Cipolla, Mitchell Walsh, David Center, Javi Martinez and Matthew Peluso each finished with two hits. Martinez also drove in a pair of runs to help the Nighthawk cause.
Newbury built a 3-0 lead after scoring once in the first and twice in the third. Elms answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third to cut the deficit to 3-2, but the Nighthawks added two more in the fourth to regain a three-run lead. Elms added a run in the bottom of the fourth, but couldn't get a runner past second base the rest of the way.
Jacob Pringle got the win for Newbury after a complete-game, eight-strikeout performance. Two of the three runs he allowed were earned and he gave up five walks.
Matt Plasse took the loss for Elms after giving up three runs, all earned, in three innings of work. The Nighthawks tagged Plasse with eight hits. Michael Luciano gave up two runs, one earned, in the fourth inning before Jamie Ryan and Mickie Howe kept the Nighthawks off the board over the final three innings.