Northborough, Mass. – The Suffolk University Baseball team defeated Lasell College 7-4 on a rainy Thursday evening to open the 2016 Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) tournament at the New England Baseball Complex in Northborough.
Matt Brenner's bases clearing double in the seventh proved to be the difference as Suffolk hung on for the victory and will now advance into the winner's bracket of Saturday's semifinals round hosted by Johnson & Wales University.
Suffolk opened the scoring in the home half of the second thanks in large part to free passes. Jon Lapolla opened the inning with a base hit to left, followed by back to back walks to Drew Carter and Kevin Belskie to load the bases. Brenner would pick up his first RBI of the evening drawing the base on balls, the third of the inning, to bring Lapolla home for the game's first run. Sean Cameron would then cap the inning off with a sacrifice fly to center bringing Carter home for the early 2-0 edge.
The lead would not last long as Lasell answered with three of their own in the next frame. Matt Haskell singled to right to lead things off before a walk to Evan Michalek with one out brought together the Lasers threat. Dan Gagnon would then connect on his team leading third homer of the season, a three-run blast to left on a 3-1 fastball giving the Lasers the 3-2 lead.
Suffolk regained the lead at 4-3, which they would hold on to for the remainder when Brady Chant hit a towering blast to left, a two-run shot. The homer was his second of the 2016 campaign brining home Belskie who led off the inning with one of his two walks on the night.
Brenner would add the insurances runs in the seventh. Following a leadoff walk to Lapolla, Frasca would single up the middle putting runners on the corners with no outs. Carter would then draw another base on balls loading up the bases. After a shallow fly to center when no runners advanced, Brenner laced a double down the left field line scoring all three runners making it a 7-3 game.
Chuck Gibson went seven innings on the mound scattering just three hits while punching out eight Lasers' hitters to move to a 5-1 record on the season.
Gibson would give way to Cal Carroll in the eighth with runners on first and second and nobody out. Carroll escaped the threat allowing just one run to cross on a wild pitch, before hurling a scoreless ninth inning to pick up his conference-leading eighth save of the season.
Brenner finished the evening 1-for-3 with a walk to go along with four RBI to pace the offense. Suffolk totaled nine hits in the victory. Jake Frasca was 2-for-4, while Rob Marks also collected a pair of hits including a double.
Suffolk hitters drew a total of 10 walks in the contest.
Gagnon and Haskell had two hits a piece in the setback as Lasell mustered just five on the evening.
With the victory, Suffolk improves to a 31-10 mark on the 2016 season. The 31 victories now stand as the second highest win total in program history. Suffolk entered the six-team tournament as the second seed with an 11-3 conference mark on the year.
Lasell falls to 20-16. The Lasers entered the contest with an 8-6 record in GNAC play which stood for third best.
Both teams will now await the results from tomorrow's other quarterfinals matchup. Following a three-day holdup due to the inclement weather in the region, fourth-seed Johnson & Wales finished off their suspended game from the night before with a 7-0 win over Albertus Magnus College on Thursday. The Wildcats will now travel to top-seed St. Joseph's College (Me.) at 3:30pm on Friday.
Suffolk will take on the winner of that contest on Saturday afternoon at 1:30pm with the winner advancing to Sunday's championship.
Lasell will play Friday's loser in an elimination game beginning at 10:00am.
All games on the weekend will be played at Scots Miracle-Gro Complex on the campus of Johnson & Wales in Providence, Rhode Island.