MCLA Sweeps Framingham
North Adams, MA - The sun beat down heavily at the Joe Zavattaro Complex on Saturday and the sky was a bright blue as the MCLA Trailblazers prepared for their doubleheader against the Framingham State Rams. The Trailblazers played as the away team despite being on their home turf due to a field availability conflict in Framingham.
The Trailblazers started things off quickly in front of a very lively crowd as sophomore John Ripepi (Amsterdam, New York) led off the game with a single and promptly stole second base. Freshman Rick Massey (Pittsfield, Massachusetts) grounded out, allowing Ripepi to move up to third base which set up Norwood, Massachusetts native and senior Cory Burtman's ground out to score the game's first run.
Trailblazer pitcher James Greeley (Newton, MA), pitched a perfect first inning and kept the Rams quiet through the second, giving up one hit and striking out three through the first two frames. The Trailblazers tacked on another run in the third thanks to a lead-off homer from junior Ken Recore (Averill Park, New York) that sailed into the trees beyond left field.
The Rams would score in the third after Greeley hit the lead-off batter A.J. LaBrecque (Tyngsborough, MA) and then balked, moving LaBrecque to second base. One ground out and one deep fly later, LaBrecque would tag up and score the team's first run cutting the lead in half to 2-1.
Both teams' bats went silent but the Rams were able to push a run across in the fifth due to two Trailblazers errors and another sacrifice fly tying the ballgame at two apiece. The trouble for the Trailblazer defense did not stop there as in the sixth inning, the lead-off man for the Rams reached on an error and was bunted to second base on a sacrifice. The next batter, Joe Sheehan (Burlington, MA), was hit by a pitch and the following player, J.J. Sorensen (Westerly, RI) singled to score the lead-off man taking the lead from the Trailblazers.
However, MCLA would not sit back and watch as in the seventh they came out fighting in dramatic fashion. Steve Sullivan (Wareham, MA) singled to start things and was moved to second base thanks to a sacrifice bunt from Paul Procopio (Pittsfield, MA). Recore walked and then Tim Burns (Pittsfield, MA) grounded out moving Recore and Sullivan up to second and third respectively. This set up Ripepi who singled deep into center, scoring both runs and putting MCLA up 4-3. Senior Andrew Gaines (Holyoke, MA) came in to seal the deal, saving the first game by pitching a perfect inning for Greeley who went six, gave up four hits, three runs (one earned) and struck out five to pick up the win. Matt Nicholson (Watertown, MA) took the loss for the Rams, going the distance and striking out three.
The second game started amidst cooler temperatures as the winds began to pick up and the sun retreated. However, this cool down did not stop the Trailblazers from striking the first blow once again. In the top of the first Burtman reached on an error allowing Ripepi to score off Rams starter Rob Mclaughlin (Plymouth, MA) who gave up a walk and two hits during the inning.
In the bottom of the second inning the Rams returned fire with LaBrecque hitting into a double play, scoring Rams DH Ryan McCarthy (Shrewsbury, MA). The Rams continued to pour on the pressure, opening things up in the third inning by loading the bases with one out. McCarthy would ground out, scoring Marc Massarotti (Watertown, MA). Sheehan then singled up the middle, scoring both Dave Leach (Chelmsford) and Steven Tramontozzi (Watertown, MA) setting the score at 4-1 Framingham.
The Trailblazers would answer with a run of their own in the top of the fourth. The Trailblazers would lead off the inning with consecutive singles from Procopio, Recore, and Anthony Russo (Marcy, NY). Ripepi followed with a line out, but Pat Negrini (West Stockbridge, MA) picked him up with an RBI producing fielder's choice to make the score 4-2.
The game took a heavy swing in favor of the Trailblazers thanks to the explosive bat work of Procopio who hit a grand slam off new pitcher Jared Rooney (Watertown, MA) over the left field wall, scoring Derek Gibbons (Rochester, MA) who reached on a single, Sullivan and Burns. The Trailblazers added one more run in the sixth off of a Gibbons fielder's choice and an errant throw which allowed him to move up to second base and Negrini to score.
Looking to regain ground, the Rams started the bottom of the sixth with two singles and thanks to a wild pitch, set up runners on second and third with no outs. Trailblazer starting pitcher Cyrus Curtis (Bourne, MA) got Sorensen to ground out which scored McCarthy. LaBrecque followed with an RBI double chasing Curtis. Gaines relieved Curtis and after a walk struck out Massarotti and got Leach to weakly ground out to second ending the inning. Gaines earned his second save of the day but not before allowing the Rams to get the tying run in scoring position in the seventh. The Rams had two on and two out, but Sorensen popped up to end it. Curtis picked up the win, going five and a third, giving up seven hits, six runs (five earned), and struck out six. Rooney took the loss, getting no outs on three batters and giving up three runs, two hits, and one walk.
When asked how the team felt after the game, MCLA Trailblazers Head Coach Jeff Puleri said, "Winning isn't easy, it's very hard. We did what we had to do to win."
The Trailblazers move to 9-4 and will take on Elms College in Chicopee tomorrow starting at 12:00 PM. Framingham drops to 3-12 and will travel to Umass-Dartmouth on Tuesday for a 3:30 start time.