MIT baseball team clinches bid for the 2014 NCAA Tournament

Engineers take their first-ever NEWMAC title with win

After winning the first game of the 2014 New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Baseball Championship series against Wheaton, 6-4, MIT came back to sweep the doubleheader against the Lyons with a wild-ending 12-6, 10-inning victory to win the best-of-three series and claim its first-ever NEMWAC title. The Engineers will now get the conference automatic bid to the 2014 NCAA Tournament, which will begin with regional action on May 14-18.

In game one MIT (22-13) jumped on top early, scoring three times in the first. The Engineers put runners on the corners with one out for Hayden K. Cornwell ’15, who doubled in the first run. Nathaniel H. Rodman ’16 brought in another run with an RBI groundout before Parker A. Tew ’15 singled in the final run of the inning.

Another three-run inning, this time in the fourth, proved to be the winning margin for the Engineers. An error and a hit batter put two aboard for John M. Drago ’17, who plated both runners with a double to right center. Creed J. Mangrum ’14 followed with an RBI single to make it 6-0.

Max J. Ockner ’14 started for the Engineers and blanked Wheaton (27-16-1) over the first six innings giving up just a pair of hits. In the seventh the Lyons broke through with their first run, getting back-to-back doubles to start the inning from Mike Bisceglia and Justin Silvestro. Wheaton went on to cut the lead in half, scoring another run on a balk and adding an RBI single by Tyler Contillo.

MIT’s bullpen then held off the Lyons the rest of the way, limiting them to just one run in the eighth on a Kevin Foley RBI single. Michael A. Wymer ’16 tossed the ninth for MIT and picked up the save, giving up a pair of infield singles before recording the final two outs.

In game two Wheaton scored single runs in the first, second and fourth innings to take an early 3-0 lead, but MIT came back with three in the fifth to tie it, highlighted by RBI singles by Drago and Mangrum. The Lyons retook the lead in the seventh when a double by Apolinar De La Cruz with a runner on first resulted in the lead runner scoring when the hit was misplayed in the outfield.

It stayed that way until the ninth when the Engineers saw their leadoff hitter reach after being hit by a pitch. Wheaton’s closer, Ryan Grant, then retired a pair of hitters around a walk to Mangrum before Cornwell doubled to tie things up at 4-4. After Rodman was intentionally walked, Tew singled to center to bring home a pair of runs and put the Engineers on top 6-4.

Wheaton had an answer in the bottom of the ninth when De La Cruz smacked a two-run shot to right to send the game into extra innings.

MIT came right back in the tenth, loading the bases with one down on a pair of singles and a walk. A hit batter broke the tie before Cornwell brought home another with an infield single. After Rodman drew a walk to make it 9-6, Tew put the finishing touches on the game, clearing the bases with a triple to left center.

Robert J. Bertucci ’14 then came out of the bullpen to close it out for the Engineers. Wheaton threatened by putting two on with two down on a hit batter and a single, but Bertucci got the next hitter to pop up to first to end it.

Ockner was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player after winning both of his starts in the tournament. He defeated Springfield last week in a complete game, four hitter and struck out 13 before going six innings today, giving up six hits in six innings and allowing three runs to earn the victory.

MIT still has two games left on the regular season schedule, with the Engineers playing at Suffolk University on Monday evening at 7:00 p.m. in the first of those. MIT will learn where it sits in the NCAA bracket when the field is announced on May 11.