NEWPORT, R.I. - And it ain't over now!
After falling in Game A, 11-3, No. 1 seed Salve Regina University tied the score in the top of the ninth and forced Game B into the 12th inning with No. 3 seed Western New England University before the umpires suspended the contest because of darkness. The Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) baseball championships will resume on Sunday, May 13, at 12:30 p.m. on Reynolds Field, with the score tied, 6-6, and the Seahawks batting in the top of the 12th. If Salve Regina wins Game B, the "if necessary" Game C will start soon after the conclusion of Game B, and the Seahawks will return to the "home" field advantage. With its one game lead, the Golden Bears need just one more win to capture their sixth overall CCC title.
GAME A: Western New England 11, Salve Regina 3
Salve Regina sophomore starter Patrick Maybach (Saunderstown, R.I.) pitched seven innings and struck out 11 while only allowing two hits, but four bases on balls and three fielding errors contributed to four unearned runs. Western New England broke the game open against the Seahawk bullpen with seven runs on six hits in the eighth inning. Right fielder Jamie Scholfield (Darien, Conn.) reached base five times (two walks, two hit by pitches, and a single) and scored three runs. His single plated two more Golden Bears. Left fielder Ben LaCroix (Branford, Conn.) also had two hits including a double and drove in three runs. Golden Bears starter and CCC Pitcher of the Year Bob Hamel (Southwick, Mass.) scattered nine hits while striking out five Seahawks to run his record to 6-0 on the season.
GAME B: Salve Regina 6, Western New England 6 (suspended in top of 12th due to darkness; will resume Sunday at 12:30 p.m.)
Salve Regina jumped out to a 5-0 lead after five innings with left fielder Dustin Siqueira (Trumbull, Conn.) driving in center fielder Michael DeFusco (East Greenwich, R.I.) in the top of the second for the first Seahawk lead of the day. Colton Eremian (Boca Raton, Fla.) had a third-inning single that scored Alex Perry (No. Attleboro, Mass.) from second. Perry had three extra base hits on the day - a triple and two doubles. Salve Regina added three more runs in the fifth including a two-run blast to left center by Eremian, his fifth home run of the season. Western New England starter Jake Kawiecki (Burlington, Conn.), who entered the game with a 6-0 record on the season, was taken off the hook when his teammates scored three in the sixth and another three in the eighth. Salve Regina starter Will Ginsberg (Sharon, Mass.) struck out eight in seven innings of work with his only damage allowed in the sixth.
CCC Player of the Year Alex Loparco (Riverside, Conn.) brought home the first Golden Bear run with a sacrifice to center. Juniors Erik Lacaire (Worcester, Mass.) and Joe Cassella (Wallingford, Conn.) added RBI singles to cut the deficit to two, 5-3. The Seahawks were just six outs away from forcing a deciding Game C, but two errors in the eighth resulted in three runs scoring and Western New England was suddenly three outs from a championship. Perry led off the top of the ninth with a base on balls, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored the game-tying run on a single to right field by first baseman Zack Smith (New Canaan, Conn.). Eremian had a one-out single to put runners at first and second, but a double-play grounder ended the Seahawks' bid to take the lead.
Seahawk reliever Brett Wilkes (Franklin Lakes, N.J.) got the first two out in the Golden Bear ninth, but Loparco singled and stole second to force an intentional walk to Lacaire, and Cassella walked on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases. First pitch to LaCroix nearly sailed to the backstop before catcher Christian Vargas (Melbourne, Fla.) snared it. LaCroix flew out to deep center.
Loparco threw out a Seahawk baserunner at home on a grounder to short in the 10th. With one out in the bottom of the frame, first baseman Zac Nussbaum (Bridgewater, Mass.) hit his third successive double, moved to third on a wild pitch before being replaced by pinch runner Jackson Lathrop (New Fairfield, Conn.). Seahawk reliever Zach Dionne (Tolland, Conn.) caught pinch hitter Kevin Johnson (Waterford, Conn.) looking at strike three and ended the threat with Brian Valeriano (Stratford, Conn.) popping to shortstop Anthony Cieszko (Woodcliff Lake, N.J.). Both teams sent just three batters to the plate in the 11th inning. Umpires, coaches, and conference officials (Commissioner Gregg Kaye and Assistant Commissioner Doug Chin) met to discuss the playing conditions before the start of the 12th and the decision was to halt the game until Sunday (Saturday's forecast had already been deemed unplayable).
To be continued ...