MIDDLETOWN, Conn. - In a game that featured ten unearned runs, the Wesleyan University baseball team survived a late rally to defeat Bowdoin, 8-6, on the opening day of the 2013 NESCAC Baseball Championship Friday afternoon.
Wesleyan advances to a winner's bracket game against Amherst, an 8-5 winner over Trinity, Sat., May 11 at 10:30 a.m. at Wesleyan. Bowdoin and Trinity go at it in an elimination game at Beehive Field in New Britain, also at 10:30. The winner of the elimination game takes on the loser of the winner's game in another elimination game at Wesleyan Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The tournament concludes on Sunday.
After a pair of infield errors allowed the Cardinals to load the bases with one out in the 3rd, Sam Goodwin-Boyd unloaded the bases with a hard liner into the left-center field gap, making it a 4-1 game. One batter earlier, sophomore Donnie Cimino had singled into right field to score Wesleyan's first run, countering the Bowdoin run in the top of the 1st when senior Tim McGarry was hit by a pitch with two outs, moved to third on a line single to right-center by sophomore Aaron Rosen and scored on a wild pitch. Wesleyan added two more runs in the 3rd when Jon Dennett launched just the second homer by a Cardinal this season over the left-field fence, putting Wesleyan ahead, 6-1.
Bowdoin narrowed the difference to 6-3 with a pair of run in the 4th inning, courtesy of RBI singles by senior Luke Regan and junior Kyle LeBlanc. Wesleyan retaliated with single runs in the 4th and 5th to regain a five-run edge, 8-3. Dennett got his third RBI of the game with a deep liner to left for a sacrifice fly, scoring senior Chris Bonti. Bonti then hit a fielder's choice grounder in the 5th to score a run, the only earned run by Wesleyan in the game.
Sophomore Sam Elias, who pitched two innings and got credit for the win for Wesleyan, gave up three unearned runs in the 7th as Bowdoin pulled within a pair, 8-6. Elias spelled sophomore Nick Cooney, who went 4-2/3 innings and left with a 7-3 lead. Regan and sophomore Sam Canales, who led Bowdoin with two hits apiece in the contest, both had RBI singles while another run scored on a throwing error. Elias was relieved by junior Jimmy Hill, who got the final out of the 7th, then finished the game without allowing a hit for his first save of the year.
Bowdoin also got tremendous relief pitching from freshman Harry Ridge, who retired all nine Cardinals he faced with two strikeouts, after he replaced senior starter Oliver Van Zant, who absorbed the loss despite allowing just one earned run.
Wesleyan got three fantastic plays in center field from Cimino, the last coming in the top of the 9th when Regan sent a deep fly that Cimino laid out for while running full speed toward the fence with a runner on base, helping to seal the win for the Cardinals.
The win was the first by Wesleyan on opening day of a NESCAC tournament as Wesleyan was 0-4 on its previous opening-day games in NESCAC playoff action, last qualifying in 2010. Bowdoin, playing in its fourth straight NESCAC tournament, won on opening day in both 2012 and 2011.