NEW LONDON, Conn. — The 2016 Southern Vermont College baseball team became the all-time winningest squad in program history Friday afternoon as the third-seeded Mountaineers defeated No. 2 Elms College 5-3 in New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) playoff action at Mitchell College.
SVC put up a lone run in the top of the first and never trailed the rest of the way. Southern Vermont added another single tally in the fifth before putting up three runs in the top of the seventh. Elms came back with three runs of its own in the home half of the seventh, but the Mountaineers would keep the Blazers from getting any closer down the stretch to finish off the victory.
Southern Vermont will now play top-seeded Mitchell at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday in the winner's round. A victory in that game would send SVC into Championship Sunday while a loss will see the Mountaineers play right away at 3:30 p.m. Saturday against the loser of Elms against fourth-seeded Lesley University.
The win improves SVC's season mark to 19-18, surpassing the team's previous wins record of 18 set by the 2011 crew.
"I am extremely proud of our guys for playing the game one pitch at a time today," commented SVC head coach Dave Gage. "Our energy and commitment was great."
Mountaineer junior Dylan Angelo (Ft. Johnson, N.Y.) continued his spectacular season, moving to 7-2 from the hill as he struck out five and surrendered just five hits while going the distance; all of his wins this year have come in complete-game performances. None of his three runs allowed were earned.
"Dylan did an awesome job of competing throughout the entire game," Gage added.
Southern Vermont freshman center fielder Zack Stacey (Saratoga, N.Y.) went 4-for-5 from the leadoff spot, scoring two runs and batting in another. Classmate and catcher Dan Mason (Bloomingdale, N.Y.) was 2-for-3 with two walks and three RBIs while sophomore right fielder Niko D'Agnese (Mahopac, N.Y.) turned in a 3-for-4 showing with a pair of runs scored. Freshman Joe Braim (Schuylerville, N.Y.) added a solo homer for the Mountaineers.
(story recap courtesy of Mitchell College Sports Information)
Both teams put a runner in scoring position in the first, but only Southern Vermont cashed in. Stacey led-off the game with a double down the left field line, and Mason singled through the right side to score the run before the first out was recorded. In the home half, Elms put two on with two outs before Angelo ended the threat via strikeout to keep the 1-0 lead intact.
After allowing the lone run in the first, Elms starter Tom Weldon (Springfield, Mass.) quickly settled into a groove. He struck out the side in both the second and fourth innings and fanned nine in the contest.
SVC struck again for a run in the fifth, however, to get a small piece of insurance. D'Agnese got things started with a single to right and moved into scoring position on a ground out. Stacey then delivered a two-out RBI single past the first base bag to make it a 2-0 game.
Weldon hit more trouble in the top of the seventh as Braim started the inning with his homer sent out to left, the first of his collegiate career. The Mountaineers then bumped the lead to 5-0 on a two-run single by Mason after D'Agnese and Stacey registered a pair of singles to get aboard.
Elms put three runs on the board in the bottom of the seventh to cut into the deficit. The Blazers got a base runner courtesy of an SVC throwing error, and pinch hitter Josh Berthiaume (Pittsfield, Mass.) plated the run with a single to right-center. Stephen Harrison (Southbury, Conn.) later doubled into the gap in right-center to knock in two more runs as the SVC lead shrunk back to two.
Reliever Brian Langdon (Beacon Falls, Conn.) got Elms out of a tight spot in the ninth to keep it close after D'Agnese stole third. The Blazers then brought the tying run to the plate with one out in the home half, but Angelo got the next two batters to ground out to end the game.