Five-Run Fourth Inning Sparks Baseball to 5-4 Win Over Bates

A controversial call in the fourth inning ignited a five-run MIT rally, providing enough of an offensive cushion for Tech to hold on for a 5-4 victory over Bates College Monday afternoon on Briggs Field.

Jason T. Witzberger ’07 led off the bottom half of the fourth with a slow grounder to short. Witzberger’s speed forced Bates (3-14) shortstop Brian Mahoney to rush his throw, which sailed high and appeared to pull first baseman Erik Hood off the bag.

The field umpire initially ruled the play an out, prompting argument from the MIT (11-11) coaches. After consultation with the home plate umpire, the call was reversed, leading to vehement protest from Bates head coach Craig Vandersea and his eventual ejection.

The sequence appeared to rattle Bobcats starting pitcher Larry Hinkle, and the Engineers capitalized with five singles, a walk, and two run-producing outs. Hinkle finally escaped from the inning with a pop-up on the infield from Thomas M. Phillips ’09 with the bases loaded.

MIT starting pitcher Richard D. Kosoglow ’08 made sure the lead lasted through his seven innings of work, allowing only three singles and one unearned run. The one run against him could have been much worse in the top of the fourth, but he worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam with a strikeout and a flyout to end the threat.

The Engineers appeared to be cruising to victory until a tense ninth inning made it interesting. Witzberger moved from center field to the mound, where he gave up three unearned runs. Two of the runs reached base on walks, and the third on a throwing error. After driving in the Bobcats’ fourth run with a double down the left-field line, Josh Linscott was stranded at second base when Witzberger produced a game-ending comebacker.

With the wind blowing in from the outfield, both teams had difficulty creating offense. Linscott’s double in the ninth was the only extra-base hit of the game, as all of MIT’s 11 hits were singles.

Jason M. Rome ’10 got his second start of the season in right field, and took advantage with two hits and an RBI. He now has eight hits in only 15 at-bats this season. Three other Engineers collected two hits apiece to lead the team.

MIT finished third in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference. The conference tournament takes place this weekend at Wheaton College in Norton, Mass.