NEW LONDON, Conn. – Second-seeded New England College won the 2019 New England Collegiate Conference Baseball Championship by a 2-1 final over top-seeded Mitchell College on Monday afternoon at Alumni Field.
NEC scored a pair of runs in the third inning on a two-run single by Anderson Jimenez—who was named the tournament's most valuable player—and made the margin stand. Starting pitcher Stanley Vargas allowed one run on two hits over 7.0 innings before handing the ball off to Manuel Alejandro for the final six outs.
With the win, the Pilgrims (25-15 overall) claimed their first NECC title and earned the conference's automatic bid for the 2019 NCAA Championship. The NCAA field will be announced on Monday, May 13 at noon.
Starter Ryan Solimine, pitching on only three days' rest, turned in a gutsy performance for the Mariners. He allowed two runs (one earned) on only three hits and fanned seven over 7.2 innings.
The first hit of the game came in the bottom of the second as Peter Abate connected on a hit-and-run opportunity to give the Mariners runners at the corners with one out. Vargas was up to the task, however, and got a fly ball and strikeout to escape the jam.
The Pilgrims carried the momentum into the third when Joe Maestu led off with a single through the left side. After a Mitchell fielding error put a second man on base, Jimenez drilled a single to right-center field that plated both runners for the 2-0 advantage.
Mitchell put runners on base in each of the first four innings but failed to cash in. In the fourth, Pagan nearly tied the game with a towering blast to left field, but the wind kept the ball in the park and allowed Nick Powers to make a catch at the warning track before tumbling over the fence.
The Mariners finally broke through in the sixth when Pagan legged out an infield single that allowed Steve Cochrane to score from third base.
Solimine, who got better as the game went on, didn't allow a runner past first base after the third. NEC didn't threaten again until the ninth, putting two on with no outs against reliever Brian Ricker. The Mariners went to the bullpen again in favor of Bryce Bedard, who was able to keep it a one-run game.
A one-out single by Pagan in the ninth put the tying run on base for the Mariners. On the ensuing steal attempt, shortstop Luis Atiles made the play of the game to cut Pagan down. He corralled a high throw to the far side of the bag and swiped back to apply the tag. Moments later, Alejandro got a ground out to third for the final out and his second save of the season.
2019 NECC Baseball Championship
Lesley – Daniel O'Donnell Jr., Ryan Pumphret
Eastern Nazarene – Zachary Carmody, Brent Houle
Mitchell – Ryan Solimine, Steven Pagan, Roland Thivierge
New England College – Stanley Vargas, Nick Powers, Anderson Jimenez (MVP)
Game 1 – Lesley 8, Becker 2
Game 2 – Eastern Nazarene 4, Southern Vermont 2
Game 3 – New England College 5, Lesley 2
Game 4 – Mitchell 6, Eastern Nazarene 1
Game 5 – Eastern Nazarene 14, Lesley 5
Game 6 – New England College 5, Mitchell 0
Game 7 – Mitchell 4, Eastern Nazarene 3
Game 8 – New England College 2, Mitchell 1