NEWPORT, R.I. - Visiting Nichols College baseball struck for three home runs and 12 overall hits in a 9-1 victory over Salve Regina in the opening round of the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) tournament. The Bison advance to face defending champion Western New England University while the Seahawks await there opponent for an elimination game on Friday, May 3.
The game began with silent bats for both teams, until the top of the second inning when freshman Tyler Heenan (Milford, Conn.), who went 3 for 4, collected a base hit for the Bison. Junior Christian Naccari (Ossining, N.Y.) closely followed with a single of his own. This set up Nichols to get on the leader board first with a three-run homerun from graduate student Chris Anderson (Naugatuck, Conn.).
In the bottom of the second, sophomore Michael DeFusco (East Greenwich, R.I.) hit for a single to be the first Seahawk on base and the first of just three Seahawks to record a hit.
The bats were again quiet until Heenan singled in the top of the fourth inning, but was left on base after a backwards diving catch for a high-flying foul ball from junior catcher Dylan Ketch (Clinton, Conn.)
In the top of the sixth the Bison added two more runs when Heenan popped off a two-run homer bringing in junior Kyle Bouchard (Fall River, Mass.). In the same inning left fielder Dustin Siqueira (Trumbull, Conn.) made a diving catch to ruin Naccari's would-be base hit.
Salve Regina's starting pitcher was sophomore Michael Viveiros (No. Scituate, R.I.) who struck out 4 of the 25 batters he faced before relieving the mound to junior Zach Dionne (Tolland, Conn.) at the top of the seventh inning. He faced two batters before being subbed out for sophomore Dean Borders (Danvers, Mass.) who finished out the game for the Seahawks.
The seventh inning was a long one for the Seahawks, who struggled to limit their deficit. Junior Kyle Desjardins (North Granby, Conn.) and sophomore Riley Parent (Windham, N.H.) were both walked by Dionne before Borders took the mound. Senior Joe Assenza (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) singled on for the Bison. Sophomore Nathaniel Cormier (Sandisfield, Mass.) and Bouchard both hit RBI singles back to back, bringing in Parent and Assenza for runs.
Borders struck out 3 of the 13 batters he faced including two who struck out swinging at the top of the eighth inning. He also picked off Naccari at first base for a crucial out in that inning.
In their final at bat, Nichols hit for one more run when Cormier hit an RBI single to bring in Assenza, who had singled on a much-debated call at first base after Salve first baseman Sean O'Malley (Darien, Conn.) seemingly tagged him in the helmet with the ball.
The final inning ended with a short rally from the Seahawks as Sophomore Anthony Cieszko (Woodcliff Lake, N.J.) hit a single off of junior Brodie Altiere (North Adams, Mass.) who came in to pitch for sophomore starter Robert Cobb (Revere, Mass.). Ketch hit an RBI single to put Salve on the board and prevent a shutout, followed by the first hit of the day from Senior Zack Smith (New Canaan, Conn.) who was just named CCC Player of the Year.
O'Malley struck out looking for Altiere's first strikeout to end the game.