BOSTON, Mass. – Needing just one win to earn their second regular season crown in the last three seasons, the seventh/eighth ranked Beacons did just that in dramatic fashion as Wanderson Pinales (Bani, D.R.) led the Beacons to a walk-off victory to give UMB a 7-6 win and the top-seed in next week's Little East Tournament Friday afternoon at Monan Park.
#7/8 UMass Boston 7, Rhode Island College 6
#7/8 UMass Boston 13, Rhode Island College 16
UMass Boston (30-8, 11-3 Little East Conference)
Rhode Island College (19-13, 7-7 Little East Conference)
HOW IT HAPPENED
With the game one win, UMass Boston earned the right to host the Little East Conference Tournament, which will begin next Wednesday at Monan Park. The regular season championship is the Beacons second in the last three years. Their game one win, also gave the Beacons their third straight 30-win season, and fourth in program history. The Beacons also tied the program mark for Little East Conference wins in a regular season.
After a one-run top of the eighth evened the score at 6-6, the Beacons wasted little time securing the crucial victory in the bottom of the ninth. Ryan McCormick (Cumberland, R.I.) led off the inning with a single to center field. The Beacons then moved McCormick to second on a bunt single by Danny Brown (Hudson, N.H.). From there Pinales crushed a double to deep center field with two strikes against him to plate McCormick to give UMB the biggest win of the season.
Alex Carusotto (Pittsfield, Mass.) collected the game one on win on senior day after going 1.2 innings. The righty had the only Beacons strikeout. Bryan Kaufman (Farmingdale, N.Y.) also had a solid senior day performance, after the Beacons were forced to go to the bullpen after just an inning and a third. Kaufman allowed just one run on two hits over four complete innings.
Fans knew that Friday's contest was going to be a back-and-forth affair in the opening inning. RIC wasted little time getting on the scoreboard as they jumped out to a 1-0 lead. UMB answered right back in the bottom half of the inning with three runs to take a 3-1 lead. The Anchormen then responded in the second with a crooked number of their own to take a 4-1 lead.
RIC would then add another run in the fourth to jump out to a 5-3 lead. Despite the two-run deficit the Beacons would then respond with a run over the middle innings to take a 6-5. The Anchormen's tying run in the top of the eighth was an RBI single by former Beacon Ray Zincone.
UMB failed to get anything going in the bottom half of the eighth, while in the top of the ninth Carusotto retired the side in order to set-up the game-winning ninth inning.
The Beacons combined for nine hits and seven walks, while the Anchormen finished the loss with 10 hits, and only one extra base hit.
With the regular season championship secured, the Beacons still wanted to end the 2018 campaign on a high note.
Little did anyone know that the nightcap would see a combined 37 hits and 29 runs between the two squads. RIC jumped out to a commanding 7-1 lead through the first three innings. UMB then bounced back with a two-run fourth, five-run fifth, and two-run sixth to take a 10-7 lead.
Down but not out, the Anchormen's bats continued to pound the ball all over the diamond as they tacked on a pair of runs in the top of the seventh to make it a one-run game (10-9). The Beacons added some insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh on an RBI double by Pinales, and a sac-fly by Charlie Huegi (Sandy Hook, Conn.).
Unfortunately for UMB, the Anchormen cancelled out that two-run seventh with a pair of runs of their own in the top of the eighth to cut it to a one-run ball game again (12-11). UMB's final run of the contest came in the bottom of the eighth inning when McCormick recorded a sac-fly to deep center field.
Perhaps the top moment of the eighth inning came when senior pitcher Steve Witkowski (Pittsfield, Mass.) made his first collegiate at-bat. The big righty barreled-up an 80+ mph slider that nearly slipped past the pitcher. The play went down as a fielder's choice, but for Witkowski, his parents, and the members of the Beacons roster it was a moment that will go down in history.
Now leading 13-11 heading into the top of the ninth the Beacons looked to close out the sweep. However, the hard-hitting Anchormen were not done yet as they unloaded five runs including a game-winning three-run homer to give RIC a 16-13 lead.
Looking for another walk-off the Beacons got the bottom of the ninth off to a great start as they put runners on first and second following a walk to Sal Frosceno (Derby, Conn.) and a single by Huegi. Any chance of a rally came to an end as the Anchormen recorded three straight outs to clinch the win. Senior Dave Murphy (Plymouth, Mass.) nearly tied the game with one swing of the bat, but just missed it as he flew out to deep center field.
Game two did see a home run from senior Chris Fowler (Barnstable, Mass.), who unloaded a solo bomb over the center field wall, making it one of the longest home runs ever recorded in Monan Park history. The Barnstable native came within 90 feet of recording the program's first-ever cycle in the bottom of the eighth. In game two, Fowler finished 4-for-4 with two RBI and three runs scored.
Nick Herzog (Riverhead, N.Y.) also had a strong nightcap performance as he went 2-for-3 with three runs scored and three RBI. Pinales capped-off the best doubleheader of his Beacons career with a 3-for-4 showing which included three RBI and a run scored.
Bobby Tramondozzi (Peabody, Mass.) was handed the loss after failing to close out the ninth. In the one inning, Tramondozzi allowed all five runs on five hits, and did not record a strikeout. Joe Maguire (Peabody, Mass.) had to take over early in the contest, after the Beacons starter was pulled after just two innings. Maguire lasted three innings and allowed just one hit.
BY THE NUMBERS
- Friday's doubleheader marked the final regular season series for the Beacons six senior members in Witkowski, Carusotto, Kaufman, Frosceno, Murphy, and Fowler
- The Beacons pitching staff managed just three strikeouts in the split
- All-time the Beacons are now 30-27 against Rhode Island College, and have won eight of their last nine against the Anchormen
- In game two both UMB and RIC had seven doubles, one triple, and one home run
The Beacons will return to action on Wednesday when they take on the sixth-seeded Corsairs of UMass Dartmouth at 11 a.m. at Monan Park in the first game of the 2018 Little East Tournament.