Babson Park, Mass. - April 9, 2009 - Sophomore Corey Highfield blasted his first collegiate home run with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Babson College Beavers walked off with a 4-3 victory over visiting Springfield College in a New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) baseball contest at Govoni Field on Thursday afternoon.
It marked the second late-inning victory in a row for Babson, which improved to 13-11 overall and 4-5 in the conference. The loss dropped the Pride’s record to 5-17 overall and 2-4 in the NEWMAC.
Highfield’s first career homer off Springfield first-year Teddy Kusiak made a winner out of Beavers’ sophomore ace Andrew Aizenstadt, who tied Babson’s all-time record for strikeouts in a game with a career-high 14 in a magnificent complete-game effort. The hard-throwing righthander allowed three runs – two earned – on 10 hits and one walk in nine brilliant innings of work. The win improved his season record to 4-1, while the 14 strikeouts matched the program mark set by 2004 alumnus and Major League Baseball draftee Jason Kosow back on March 19, 2003.
After coming out of the bullpen to strike out the side in the eighth, Kusiak suffered the loss to drop to 1-1. Junior Ryan White started and received a no-decision for the Pride, despite allowing just three runs – two of which were earned – on eight hits, walking two and striking out two in seven strong innings.
Aizenstadt and White matched zeros over the first five and a half innings before Babson finally broke through in the bottom of the sixth. Highfield reached on an error to start the frame, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Billy Besinger, and scored on back-to-back wild pitches.
The Pride quickly tied the game in the top of the seventh, as sophomore Mario Piscitelli hit an opposite field, two-out home run over the wall in right-center off Aizenstadt – his second of the season. Springfield then grabbed its first lead with another solo shot in the eighth, as junior Joe Kropa belted his third homer of the spring to nearly the same spot as the visitors moved in front, 2-1.
For the second straight day, Babson staged a dramatic eighth inning rally as Besinger and first-year Sean Cleary both singled to start the inning and scored on a clutch two-run double into the right-center field gap by first-year Travis Jonasson. However, after a walk to senior co-captain Bryan Evans, Kusiak came on and struck out three straight hitters to keep the Pride within one, 3-2, heading into the ninth.
Springfield staged a comeback of its own in the top of the ninth, beginning when senior captain Luke Gabordi led off with a single to center. Aizenstadt would strike out the next batter, but senior Ryan Tatreau followed with a base hit through the right side that advanced senior pinch-runner John Procopio to second. Piscitelli then lined a single to left, and the ensuing throw to the plate got away allowing Procopio to scamper home with the tying run.
With the go-ahead run now at third, Aizenstadt capped off a tremendous pitching effort by inducing a pop-up to third and his record-tying 14th strikeout to get out of the inning. That set the stage for Highfield, who smashed a 2-1 offering from Kusiak over the wall in right with one down in the bottom of the ninth, giving the Beavers the thrilling walk-off victory.
Cleary and senior co-captain Jeff Wojnar each recorded two hits for Babson, while Kropa and Piscitelli slugged out three hits apiece for Springfield.
Both teams return to action tomorrow afternoon. Babson will head to Curry for a 3 p.m. matchup – the first of five straight road games for the Beavers. Meanwhile, Springfield will host NEWMAC foe MIT at 3 p.m.