Chris Kendrick (@CKendrick86)
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Elms College baseball team closed their run at the 2017 Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic with a pair of victories during a doubleheader against Lakeland University Thursday afternoon. The Blazers held off the Muskies, 8-7, in game one, and then captured a 6-4 victory in the finale.
Game 1: Elms 8, Lakeland 7
The Blazers cracked the scoreboard in the top of the first inning as senior Kyle Platner (Northfield, Mass.) plated sophomore Alex Hoss (Stafford Springs, Conn.) with an RBI single to centerfield. The Muskies evened the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the second with senior Kenny Pekarek (Sagola, Mich.) knocking a leadoff triple, and then scoring on a groundout by freshman Brandon Punzel (Escanaba, Mich.).
Tied 1-1 in the fourth, Lakeland grabbed the lead behind an RBI double from junior Christopher Leopold (Bolingbrook, Ill.) and a two-run single from sophomore Jody Harrison (Pontiac, Mich.) to hold a 4-1 advantage. Elms answered in the top of the fifth on two-out, RBI singles from Hoss and senior Brian Hungerford (New Preston, Conn.) to trim the gap to 4-3.
The Blazers regained control with a four-run sixth inning, sparked by a single from senior Jordan Zima (Berlin, Conn.) and double from classmate Stephen Harrison (Southbury, Conn.) to put runners in scoring position. Senior Tim Gelzinis (North Dighton, Mass.) followed with a two-run single to centerfield to hand Elms a 5-4 lead. Gelzinis and senior Aedin Wadja (Lebanon, Conn.) scored on a two-run single from Hungerford to push the Elms advantage to 7-4.
Elms added a crucial insurance run in the top of the seventh as senior Dan Brunetti (Enfield, Conn.) lifted an RBI sacrifice fly to left field, plating Zima and building an 8-4 lead. The Muskies mounted a rally in the bottom of the inning, scoring three runs behind an RBI double from sophomore Travis Regalado (Wilcox, Ariz.) and a sac fly from classmate Connor Hilburn (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.), but Gelzinis forced three straight outs in his first career relief appearance to lock up the 8-7 victory.
Zima led the charge at the dish, going 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Hungerford drove in three runs on two hits, while Wadja was 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Gelzinis plated two runs and registered his first career save. Senior Cody Lemieux (1-1; Torrington, Conn.) picked up his first win of the season, allowing four runs on six hits with a strikeouts. Hilburn (1-1) took the loss for Lakeland, giving up five runs on eight hits with five strikeouts.
Game 2: Elms 6, Lakeland 4
The Muskies struck first in the nightcap, plating a pair of runs in the opening frame on a two-run double from Pekarek to stake Lakeland to a 2-0 lead. Elms responded in the bottom of the second with a four-run inning, ignited by a sacrifice fly from Wadja. Junior Andy Vasquez (Queens, N.Y.) ripped an RBI single to center field, and then Platner cranked a two-run double, pushing the Blazers ahead 4-2.
In the top of the fourth, Lakeland tied the game at 4-4 behind an RBI double from sophomore Bryan Bridges (North Chicago, Ill.) and an RBI bases load walk by junior Drew Richard (Kieler, Wis.). The Blazers grabbed the lead for good in the bottom of the fifth with a two-run double from Gelzinis. Elms sophomore Matt Plasse (Westfield, Mass.) and freshman Jamie Ryan (Easthampton, Mass.) limited the Muskies to two hits in the final two innings to secure the 6-4 victory.
Harrison went 2-for-3 from the plate with two runs scored, while Gelzinis and Platner added two RBIs. Vasquez drove in a run and scored in the win. Plasse (1-1) surrendered four runs on 10 hits with a season-high eight strikeouts in six innings of work.
The Blazers will be back in action with a non-conference road trip to Rhode Island College Tuesday afternoon for a 3:30 p.m. first pitch.