NORTON, Mass- April 27, 2008 -Sophomore Nick Kostaras yielded one unearned run on three hits in 7.2 innings, and the second-seeded Wheaton College baseball team downed number-four Springfield College, 4-1, to capture its fourth straight New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament title and ninth in the league's 10-year history on Sunday at Sidell Stadium.
Wheaton, which is ranked 12th nationally by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), swept through its fourth consecutive NEWMAC Tournament in running its league tourney winning streak to 13 games. The Lyons are now 31-7, while the Pride fell to 16-20.
The hosts bolted out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning before Kostaras and junior Jacob Feist (Allentown, Pa.) settled into a pitcher's duel, combining to yield one run on five hits during the next four and a half innings. However, the damage had already been done, and Wheaton headed to the ninth with a 4-1 edge. Junior closer Josh Simmons worked the final frame, pitching around two walks to strike out a pair and induce a game-ending grounder to sophomore first baseman Sean Buckley.
Wheaton jumped in front in the first inning, as freshman Sean Munley shot a two-run single into left field with one down. Seniors Scott Guillerault and Jake Yagjian came around to score, with Guillerault sliding under the tag on a close play at the plate. Sophomore Paul Malaguti's single into center field made it 3-0 in the second, scoring freshman Eric Laliberte.
The Pride put together a two-out rally in the sixth. Junior Jamie Mackie (Springfield, Mass.) doubled to the left field fence for just his team's second hit, and classmate Luke Gabordi (Ledyard, Conn.) drew a four-pitch walk, but Kostaras got the final batter to pop up. Wheaton added another run in the bottom half, as Malaguti sent a long sacrifice fly to right to plate Laliberte, who had singled with one out.
Springfield put together a sustained threat in the eighth inning, all with two down. Freshman John Schmaltz (Cromwell, Conn.) singled to center, and the first batter against senior reliever Keith Pescosolido reached on an infield miscue. Gabordi followed with a hard line drive down the first base line that Buckley dove to get a piece of, plating what proved to be the Pride's only run of the game. Two batters later, with the bags packed and two still down, junior shortstop Nick Pecora snared a hard grounder to his left and flipped to second for an inning-ending force.
Malaguti went 3-for-4 with two RBI for the Lyons, Laliberte finished 2-for-3 and scored twice, while Guillerault reached base in all four of his plate appearances, singling, doubling, walking and being hit by a pitch. Kostaras improved to 5-0 thanks to his gem, allowing just one single in addition to a pair of Springfield doubles, and he walked only two while fanning a career-high seven. Simmons finished up with his 10th save of the season, becoming just the third Lyon to reach the double-digit save plateau.
Gabordi was one of four Pride players with one hit, as he drove in his team's only run and walked twice. Feist allowed four runs on eight hits in six innings, striking out one and walking two, just one day after earning the save to key Springfield's win over number-one Babson College.