The Wheaton College baseball team, ranked No. 24 in the latest D3baseball.com Top 25 poll, captured its 15th New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) regular season title in the league’s 16-year history with a 2-1 win over MIT on Friday evening at Briggs Field.
Wheaton freshman Michael Bruemmel (Bridgewater, Mass./Bridgewater-Raynham) stifled the Engineers over eight innings of work allowing just three hits, one unearned run and no walks alongside a career-high 11 strikeouts. Bruemmel struck out the side in two innings (4th/5th), only allowed four runners to reach scoring position and set down 19-straight batters from the first inning to the conclusion of the seventh after he induced an inning-ending double play to start the consecutive outs streak.
Lyons’ sophomore center fielder Jimmy Smith (Worcester, Mass./Saint John’s) tracked down a fly ball off the bat of Creed Mangrum (Sandy, Utah/Brighton) in center for the second out of the frame and promptly hit the cut-off resulting in a tag play at home (8-1-5) stopping John Drago (Peoria, Ariz./Sunrise Mountain) from scoring the first run of the game in the bottom of the first.
Senior closer Ryan Grant (Easton, Mass./Avon Old Farms)finished the ninth recording two ground outs which included a game-ending double play (5-3) to tie the NCAA Division III career saves mark of 44. Grant is now tied with Andy Lowe of Heidelberg University who set the mark in 2011.
MIT senior Max Ockner (Chesterfield, Mo./Parkway Central)shouldered the loss (0-3) on 8 2/3 innings pitched, seven hits, two runs (one earned), two walks and three strikeouts.
The Lyons capitalized on the momentum swing after their fine defensive effort in the opening frame scoring solo runs in the second and third to secure a 2-0 lead early in the contest.
With one out in the second, junior Mike Bisceglia (New Boston, N.H./Goffstown), sophomore Justin Silvestro (Waltham, Mass./BC High) and senior Kevin Foley (Southbury, Conn./Pomperaug) notched three-straight singles to load the bases for junior catcher Zach Horton (North Attleboro, Mass./North Attleboro).
Horton delivered with an RBI ground out to short, his ninth RBI of the season, to give the guests a 1-0 advantage. Ockner then hit freshman Joshua LaJoie (Somers, Conn./Avon Old Farms) with a pitch to re-load the bases but settled down as he got Smith to roll over a ground ball to second for the final out.
Wheaton scored its final run of the game in the third on a fielding error as MIT attempted to turn an inning-ending double play, while Bruemmel went unscathed until the eighth inning.
Engineers’ junior outfielder Hayden Cornwell (Newport Beach, Calif./Jserra Catholic) finally put the hosts in the hit column for the first time since the opening frame with an infield single to short andK.J. Parent (Knoxville, Tenn./Web School) followed with a base knock to left field to put runners at first and second with no outs. After Bruemmel fanned his final batter of the contest, senior Sean Karson (Orlando, Fla./Trinity Prep) reached first on a throwing error which allowed Cornwell to score and cut the deficit in half at 2-1.
The Lyons’ defense once again came up huge as Parent was thrown out at home in MIT’s next at-bat by Silvestro from third base to prevent the tying run from scoring. Bruemmel then induced pinch-hitter Reid Bishop (Cypress, Texas/Houston Christian) into a fielder’s choice ground out to keep the score at 2-1.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Engineers put the tying run at second base with one out after Drago was hit-by-a-pitch and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt (1-3). Grant then walked Mangrum setting up the eventual inning-ending double play (5-3) for the Lyons and his 44th career save.
Wheaton (24-8-1, 13-2 NEWMAC) hosts MIT (14-10, 10-5) tomorrow at Sidell Stadium for a NEWMAC doubleheader beginning at11:30 a.m.For the latest on Wheaton College Athletics, follow the Lyons via social media on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.