BENNINGTON, Vt. – A suspenseful Sunday afternoon at Bill Epstein Field saw the Southern Vermont College baseball team score twice in the eighth inning before getting Mitchell College to strand the tying run at third in the ninth to close out a 5-4 New England Collegiate Conference triumph.
The early portion of the contest saw a pitchers' duel as Mitchell registered the only two hits during the first three and a half innings of play. After the scoring began, a solo homer in the sixth put SVC back on top at 3-2. The lead didn't last for long as the Mariners notched the tying run in the top of the seventh.
Southern Vermont scratched across two runs in the eighth for another advantage—sending the tilt to the final frame with a 5-3 tally. Mitchell threatened to do some damage in the ninth and was able to score once on an RBI single to right with no outs. The Mariners then put runners at second and third, but neither of the first two fly outs were deep enough for the lead runner to tag. A third ball in the air was corralled for the final out and gave the Mountaineers the victory.
Before the first pitch, SVC recognized and honored its four graduating team members in Dylan Angelo, Joshua Hay, R.J. Henle, and Anthony Mercuri.
Southern Vermont (8-26, 6-10 NECC)—which snapped an 11-game losing streak—is back in action on Tuesday as the Mountaineers conclude the season with a 1:30 p.m. NECC doubleheader at home against Daniel Webster College. Mitchell is set to visit DWC for a Monday twin bill as the Mariners will wrap up the regular season with a 12 p.m. first pitch.
SVC's Zack Stacey moved out of the leadoff spot for the first time in his career and went 2-for-4 in the three-hole. He batted in a pair of runs and scored two others from that spot in the lineup. Dan Mason was 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored, and Nate Hickey turned in a 1-for-4 showing at the dish with a pair of runs scored.
Mitchell's Jack Finnegan went 2-for-3 with a pair of runs batted in while Peter Abate had two hits and scored a run. Garet Griffin and Markus Melendez were both 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored in the effort.
Hay went a strong seven innings with the start on his Senior Day—giving up just three runs (two earned) while striking out three batters. Angelo came on in relief to maintain the tie in the eighth before finishing off the win (3-4) in the ninth after SVC went in front.
Mitchell lefty Bryton Ferris struck out three while giving up five runs in 7.1 innings in the loss (5-2).
A Melendez walk resulted in the only batter to reach base safely through the first two innings before the Southern Vermont middle infield turned double plays in the third and the fourth. The Mountaineers then struck with a pair in the home half of the fourth to gain the upper hand.
Hickey got the first SVC hit of the day with a double down the line in left, and he moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch. Stacey then blooped one right over the mound for an infield single and the RBI. With two outs, Noah DuBois sent a single out to center to score Stacey and make it a 2-0 ballgame.
The Mountaineers didn't stay ahead for long, however, as Mitchell came right back to tie it in the fifth. With runners at first and second and no outs, a sacrifice bunt attempt ended with an errant throw to first which allowed Griffin to score. Finnegan then tallied a sac fly to center for Melendez to come home from third and tie it at 2-2.
Mason muscled up for a solo homer in the top of the sixth—his fourth career dinger—to give his team the edge. Finnegan had a response in the top of the seventh when he turned an Abate double into a run on an RBI single to right-center.
Angelo came on in the eighth and worked out of a jam after Mitchell put runners at the corners with no outs. The Mountaineers caught both runners on the basepaths, tagging out the first at home on an attempt to score on a wild pitch. Mason then gunned down a runner trying to swipe third for his second runner caught stealing of the frame.
That afforded the Mountaineers the chance to go back in front in the home half of the eighth. With Hickey at first and one out, Stacey ripped a double down the line in left; the speedy Hickey came all the way around to score and put his team on top 4-3. Mason soon after drilled an RBI-base hit through the right side for Stacey to score and make it a two-run difference.
SVC wasn't out of the woods yet, however, as Mitchell fought to tie it up in the ninth. Abate led off with a single to center, and his pinch runner moved up to second on a passed ball. Finnegan then connected for a hit out to right—a base knock that was misplayed and resulted in a run.
Mitchell put runners at second and third with no outs to increase the suspense. One fly out to left was followed by another the same way—neither of which was deep enough for the Mitchell coach to try and send the tying run home. Angelo then induced a game-ending fly out to right for the Mountaineers to seal the victory and celebrate their win on Senior Day.