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Late Rally Not Enough As Clark Eliminates Baseball From NEWMAC Tournament, 8-6

Joe Kropa Box Score

Springfield, Mass. -- April 24, 2009 -- The Clark University baseball team held on to defeat Springfield College, 8-6, this afternoon in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference 2nd Round Tournament game at SC's Berry-Allen Field beneath sunny skies. As a result, Clark lives for another day, while #5-seeded Springfield is eliminated from this double elimination tourney. Clark, the #6 seed, will now play #3-seeded MIT at WPI at 12:45 pm Saturday in an elimination game.

With the win, Clark raises its record to 14-20, while Springfield drops to 9-23. The Pride still has three regular season games remaining to be played next week, including one more home game versus Amherst next Wednesday at 3:30 pm.

From a Springfield point of view, this game had a sour taste right from the start, as the Pride gave up three unearned runs in the top of the first inning, and gave up four unearned runs all told while committing a total of six errors. Clark added what seemed to be two meaningless runs in the top of the ninth in taking an 8-1 lead into the bottom of that inning. But those two runs turned out to be crucial, as Springfield scored five times, and had the bases loaded when the last out, a hard ground ball to second base, was recorded.

In the Cougars' first inning, with one out, junior CF Stephen DeMartino (East Haven, Conn.) singled. Junior RF Phillip DiMarco (Bellingham, Mass.) hit into a fielder's choice, and then stole second. With two outs, freshman 3B Mitchell DeLorenzo (Berlin, Conn.) reached on an error by the third baseman, keeping the inning alive. Senior 1B Matthew Tillo (Osterville, Mass.) then hit what was going to be an easy ground ball to the second baseman, who was shaded up the middle. But the ball hit off the pitcher's foot, and ricocheted to shortstop, a run scoring. Sophomore catcher Kevin Kopec (Katonah, N.Y.) then hit a long fly to center, forcing senior CF Drew Michael (Longmeadow, Mass.) back towards the wall. The ball hit off the webbing of his glove, and was ruled a triple, knocking in the inning's second and third unearned runs. And Clark led 3-0 entering the bottom of the first.

In the top of the third, Clark added its fourth run. DiMarco singled to left to lead off. Tillo singled, advancing DiMarco to third. Tillo stole second. Kopec then reached on an error by the shortstop, although the runner would have scored anyway.

In the top of the sixth, Clark scored two runs on a play that featured a wild pitch and two errors. With one out, freshman shortstop Jeremy Gerber (Amherst, Mass.) and sophomore LF Scott Hollingsworth (Tilton, N.H.) hit back-to-back singles. SC sophomore hurler Brian Harris (East Hartford, Conn.), who had just come in to pitch, then unleashed a wild pitch in the dirt that did not get too far away from the Pride catcher. With both runners attempting to move up, the catcher threw the ball into left field, scoring one run easily. But when the SC left fielder slightly over ran the ball in his haste, Hollingsworth kept right on coming, and he scored as well. It was 6-0, Clark.

Meanwhile, junior righthander Brendan Solecki (Portsmouth, R.I.) was sailing along for the Cougars. Through five innings, Solecki had surrendered just one hit, a single off the third baseman's glove in the second inning. Finally, the Pride was able to dent the scoreboard for a run in the sixth. Senior DH John Procopio (Oakland, N.J.) led off with a single to leftcenter. He was erased on a fielder's choice. With two outs, senior SS Jamie Mackie (Springfield, Mass.) singled to left. That was followed by an RBI-single up the middle by senior 3B Luke Gabordi (Ledyard, Conn.), and the Clark lead was cut to 6-1.

In the ninth, Clark scored twice on the benefit of two walks, an error, and only one hit. Kopec singled to left center, knocking in one run. Sophomore 2B Peter Lewis (Gardiner, Me.) knocked in the second run on a fielder's choice, where the third baseman overthrew the catcher on a play at the plate.

Solecki had been lifted in the top of the eighth, after he had given up a walk and a single at the start of the inning. Freshman James Wilson (Chatham, N.J.) had come on to get out of a bases-loaded jam without giving up a run. Sophomore righthander Robert Lopez (Copake, N.Y.) came on to start the bottom of the ninth, and immediately found himself in trouble, although not all of his own making. He was destined to give up five runs, although they were all unearned. For SC, the first two runners reached on a single and a walk. After one out, junior RF Joe Kropa (Cranford, N.J.) singled to load the bases. Sophomore LF John Schmaltz (Cromwell, Conn.) then reached on an error to the shortstop, a run scoring. Mackie then hit a hard ground ball up the middle which turned into a fielder's choice, with another run scoring. It was now 8-3, but there were two outs. Gabordi singled up the middle for another run, making it 8-4.

That meant it was time for the Clark closer, senior righthander David Gagnon (Harwich, Mass.), who already had four saves on the season. But on an 0-2 pitch, Michael lined a single to right center, just out of the reach of the second baseman, driving in a run, making it 8-5. Senior 1B Ryan Tatreau (Greenfield, Mass.) then hit a soft liner to left for another single and RBI, making it 8-6. Sophomore Mike Robilotto (East Meadow, N.Y.), who had pinch-run earlier in the inning, then walked on a close 3-2 pitch, and suddenly the basees were loaded, tying run on second, winning run on first. Finally, however, freshman Joe Rivera (East Hartford, Conn.), who had walked earlier in the inning, hit a hard grounder to second, Lewis making the play, to end it.

Solecki (2-2) recorded the win, Gagnon his 5th save. For Springfield, starter and hard-luck loser Travis Turgeon, a senior from Norwich, Conn., suffered his first loss of the season. He is now 3-1 after pitching five innings, and giving up four runs (one earned) on eight hits.

Springfield next plays at MCLA Monday at 3:30 pm in a regular-season contest. Clark moves on to play MIT Saturday at WPI at 12:45 pm as their NEWMAC Tourney continues.

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