SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- April 1, 2008 - Springfield College's Joe Kropa went 3-for-5 and made a pair of spectacular defensive plays, but after all was said and done, Western New England College's seven-run fourth inning proved to be the difference as it defeated the Springfield baseball team, 7-3, on an overcast Tuesday afternoon at Berry-Allen Field.
With the loss, the Pride drops to 5-11, while the Golden Bears, winners of seven straight, improve to 7-5.
The Golden Bears sent 12 batters up to the plate in the fourth inning as it rattled off seven runs. Senior shortstop Ryan Kravontka (Glastonbury, Conn.) led off the fourth with a double to deep left center field. Senior first baseman Travis Schwamb (West Springfield, Mass.) then ripped a single into left center field to plate Kravontka, putting the visitors up 1-0. Later in the inning, following a crucial two-out error, which put sophomore DH Joe Griglun (Southington, Conn.) and junior leftfielder Mike Beck (Whitesboro, N.Y.) in scoring position, sophomore catcher Jon Dominik (West Springfield, Mass.) cracked a double to centerfield to plate a pair of WNEC runs. Dominik then crossed the plate after sophomore rightfielder Steve Kearney (Glastonbury, Conn.) laced a double into right field for the Golden Bears' fourth run of the inning. WNEC then added a pair of runs after sophomore second baseman Justin Walz (Groton, Conn.) blasted a two-RBI double off the fence in left field. A second error of the inning on a routine pop up allowed Walz to come around from second and score WNEC’s seventh and final run of the frame.
In the bottom half of the inning, senior catcher Justin Nussey (Westminster, Mass.) led off with a single up the middle and moved up to second after senior rightfielder Rex Cone (Bristol, Conn.) slapped a single into right field. Senior third baseman Ryan Hingston (Windsor, Vt.) then scored both runners after he crushed a double into left center field, putting SC on the board.
It appeared Springfield was going to keep the momentum on its side when it loaded the bases with no one out in the bottom of the fifth. But WNEC junior lefthander and eventual winner Bryan Calzone (Bethel, Conn.) suddenly found magic in his devastating curveball as he struck out the next two batters and got Cone to fly to right.
Calzone pitched six innings, scattering 10 hits and walking one, while striking out eight. Hurling a three-inning save was freshman righthander Evan Michaud (Windsor Locks, Conn.), who allowed two hits, walking none and striking out one.
Springfield added one more run with two outs in the ninth to close the scoring.
Both Dominick and Beck went 2-for-5 for WNEC. Dominick had two RBI's as did Walz. For Springfield, the top two hitters in the line-up, sophomore centerfielder Joe Kropa (Cranford, N.J.) and junior shortstop Jamie Mackie (Springfield, Mass.), went 3-for-5. Hingston went 1-for-4, knocking in two runs. Springfield had 12 hits as a team to 11 for the Golden Bears.
Sophomore righthander Ryan White (Colchester, Conn.) deserved a better fate for Springfield. In four innings, he gave up all seven runs, but six were unearned. He struck out one and walked two in picking up the loss. Senior lefthander Michael Searles (East Patchogue, N.Y.) pitched five innings of scoreless relief for the Pride. He struck out four and walked two, giving up four hits.
To highlight the Pride’s defensive work in the contest, the top of the third started off with Kropa making a spectacular diving catch to his right in center field. The next batter up was robbed of a base hit after a clean pick up by Mackie on a hard hit ball to short. Nussey, the catcher, also made a sliding foul ball catch to end the fifth for the Pride. Then in the seventh, Kropa gunned down a runner at the plate.
Springfield returns to action on Wednesday afternoon when it takes on Williams in non-conference action at 3:30 pm.