Chris Kendrick (@CKendrick86)
HARTFORD, Conn. – The Elms College baseball team split a pair of games with Becker College in a doubleheader to open their New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) opener at DeBenedetto Field Sunday afternoon. The Blazers captured a 5-4 victory in game one, while the Hawks walked off with a 3-2 win in the nightcap. Elms moves to 4-9 on the season, and 1-1 in NECC action, while Becker sits at 4-1 in conference play and 9-5 overall.
Game 1: Elms 5, Becker 4
The Hawks plated the first run of the day in the bottom of the first inning as junior Nick Harriman (Harrisville, R.I.) brought home senior Niko Bedell (Manorville, N.Y.) on an RBI double to stake Becker to a 1-0 lead.
The Blazers grabbed control in the top of the third, sparked by leadoff singles from seniors Dan Brunetti (Enfield, Conn.) and Aedin Wadja (Lebanon, Conn.). Brunetti raced home on a wild pitch to knot the score at 1-1, and then senior Kyle Platner (Northfield, Mass.) put Elms ahead 3-1 with a two-run single. Platner came around to score as classmate Jordan Zima (Berlin, Conn.) ripped an RBI double into the right-centerfield gap, giving the Blazers a 4-1 advantage.
Becker added a run in the bottom of the frame on a two-out RBI single from sophomore Christopher Testa (Providence, R.I.) to cut the lead in half, 4-2.
With runners on first and second in the top of the fourth, senior Tim Gelzinis (North Dighton, Mass.) touched home after an errant throw from Testa to rebuild a 5-3 gap for Elms. The Hawks looked to rally in the fifth as Testa knocked an RBI single, and then stole second to put runners on second and third with two outs. After a walk loaded the bases, Elms sophomore Thomas Owens (Enfield, Conn.) induced the final out on a fielder's choice to end the Hawks rally.
Becker tried to mount a final comeback attempt in the bottom of the seventh with Testa delivering a leadoff triple, and then scoring on an RBI sac fly from junior T.J. Sempkowski (Oceanport, N.J.) to make it 5-4, but Platner closed the door on the Hawks with back-to-back strikeouts to wrap up the 5-4 win.
Brunetti and senior Stephen Harrison (Southbury, Conn.) knocked two hits apiece, while Platner drove in a pair of runs. Freshman Jacob Graveline (1-2; Palmer, Mass.) registered his first collegiate win, allowing three runs on five hits with three strikeouts in 4.1 innings of work.
Testa led the Hawks at the dish, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. Harriman and Sempkowski added RBIs, and sophomore Josiah Shepherd (Providence, R.I.) scored twice. Freshman Tanyon Ventres (2-1; Holden, Mass.) took the loss, surrendering five runs, four earned, on six hits with three strikeouts in six innings.
Game 2: Becker 3, Elms 2
The nightcap proved to be a pitching duel between Elms sophomore Matt Plasse (Westfield, Mass.) and Becker junior Tyler Wagar (Uxbridge, Mass.) with both hurlers posting zeros on the scoreboard through the first two innings of action.
Becker broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the third as freshman Daniel Diaz (Teaneck, N.Y.) reached on a throwing error, and then scored after a Blazers throw to third base sailed wide as Diaz attempted to advance on a groundout from Shepherd, giving the Hawks a 1-0 advantage.
After two more scoreless frames, the Blazers harnessed the lead in the top of the sixth behind a leadoff single from sophomore Alex Hoss (Stafford Springs, Conn.) and walks to Platner and Zima to load the bases. With two outs and the sacks full, Gelzinis laced a two-run single up the middle, scoring Hoss and Platner to give Elms the 2-1 advantage.
Becker evened the score at 2-2 in the bottom of the inning with Sempkowski knocking an RBI single to left-centerfield. The Hawks walked off with the win in the bottom of the seventh as junior Samuel Derico (Latham, N.Y.) came in as pinch runner, advanced to third on a single from junior Trevor Read (Colorado Springs, Colo.), and then scored on a sac fly from Diaz, to send Becker to the 3-2 victory.
Gelzinis went 2-for-3 at the plate with a pair of RBIs for the Blazers. Plasse was saddled with a no-decision after scattering two runs, one earned, on three hits with two strikeouts in six innings on the hill.
Bedell tallied two hits for the Hawks, while Wagar (2-1) earned the complete game victory, giving up two runs on four hits with a season-high six strikeouts.
The Blazers will return to the diamond when they host Westfield State in non-conference action Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. Becker travels to Massachusetts Maritime Academy for a non-conference game Tuesday at 4:00 p.m.