NEW LONDON, Conn. – A couple rocky middle-innings were the difference Friday as the No. 3 Elms College baseball team fell 6-5 to No. 2 Lesley University in the opening round of the New England Collegiate Conference Tournament at Mitchell College.
The Blazers (12-25) will face No. 4 Becker College in an elimination game on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. Lesley (26-9) will face top-seeded Mitchell at 12:30 on Saturday and the winner of the morning game will face the loser of the afternoon game on Saturday evening.
After three scoreless innings Elms struck first in the top of the fourth. Singles from Kevin Banas (Hatfield, Mass.) and Josh Pasini (Enfield, Conn.) left runners on the corners with one out. Nathan Ayala (Springfield, Mass.) delivered an RBI-single and scored one batter later when Andy Vasquez (Queens, N.Y.) singled through the left side. Ben Ross (Thompson, Conn.) later drove in Vasquez with an infield single to put Elms ahead 3-0.
The Lynx responded immediately as Will Rhone (North Haven, Conn.) led off the bottom of the fourth with a double. After a hit-batter and a walk, Lesley quickly had the bases load with nobody out. With a strikeout and an and RBI-fielder's choice, it looked as though Elms pitcher Thomas Owens (Enfield, Conn.) might get out of the jam with a two-run lead intact. Another hit batter, however, loaded the bases and a walk forced another run in to bring Lesley within one at 3-2 before Owens got out of the inning.
Thomas Slane (Tolland, Conn.) bumped the Elms lead back up to two at 4-2 with a lead-off homer in the fifth. The Lynx, however, continued to harass Owens in the bottom half of the inning, tacking on three more runs with homers from Justin Clark (Chino Hills, Calif.) and Nicholas Ferragine (Randolph, N.J.) in the bottom of the inning to take a 5-4 lead. Lesley added two hits and a run in the bottom of the sixth to pull ahead 6-4.
The score remained 6-4 into the ninth inning when the Blazers put together one last rally. Vasquez led off the inning with a single, Jaeden Rasmus (Bristol, Conn.) followed with a double and Ross drew a walk to load the bases with nobody out. Alex Hoss (Stafford Springs, Conn.) followed with an RBI-single to left which left the bases loaded and pulled Elms within one at 6-5. But Lesley reliever Tom Muratore (Mamaroneck, N.Y.) escaped the situation after a fielder's choice from Slane and back-to-back strikeouts of Banas and Josh Berthiaume (Pittsfield, Mass.) to end the game.
Vasquez led Elms with three hits and an RBI while Ross went 2-for-3 with an RBI and drew the only two Elms walks of the game. Owens pitched seven innings and gave up six earned runs with five strikeouts before Cody Fisher (South Windsor, Conn.) came in for the eighth and retired the side in order with two Ks.
J.P. Agiorgousis (Hanscom AFB, Mass.) went 2-for-3 for Lesley and Clark had two RBIs for the Lynx. Nick Iadevaio (Mineola, N.Y.) got the win for Lesley, pitching six innings and allowing four earned runs with four strikeouts and one walk.