Providence, R.I. – The Suffolk University Baseball team captured the 2016 Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Championship with a 5-4 victory in 10 innings over St. Joseph's College (Me.) in Sunday's title game at Scots Miracle-Gro Complex on the campus of tournament host Johnson & Wales University.
With the victory, Suffolk (33-11) earns an automatic qualifying bid into this year's NCAA Championship tournament. Entering the tournament as defending champions, the 2016 conference title is the sixth GNAC title for Suffolk and marks the first time in program history for consecutive regional appearances and sixth overall.
Suffolk entered Sunday needing just one win as they defeated the Monks 10-0 in Saturday's semifinals round to advance in the winner's bracket.
The Monks would erase an early 5-0 deficit to take the opener 8-7 and force the if-necessary winner take all game two.
In the nightcap, Greg Speliotis' bases loaded walk in the 10th inning would bring in the game deciding run in the top half of the inning as the Monks rallied for two going in the ninth to force extra innings.
Taylor Reuillard hit a solo home run to right in the bottom of the second to give St. Joseph's the early 1-0 lead in game two.
Suffolk would even things up in the fourth when Brady Chant led the inning off with a double to right before moving over to third on a sacrifice bunt by Rob Marks. Jon Lapolla drove in Suffolk's first run to tie the game at 1-1 with a sacrifice fly to center.
In the top of the fifth Suffolk would take the lead when Seth Coiley hit a ball that got up into the jet stream and carried all the way to the centerfield wall for his second triple of the year. He would come around to score in the next at-bat as Luke Ronchi lined a sacrifice fly to right.
The top of the sixth would mark the third consecutive inning Suffolk would plate one run as Chant scored once again when Drew Carter singled through the left side with the bases loaded and nobody out.
Both teams would continue to trade runs as the Monks cut the deficit in half in the seventh when Nic Lops dropped a single in left field with two outs making it 3-2.
Suffolk however would add an insurance run in their next at-bat when Chant scored his third run of the ball game. Following a leadoff walk, an errant throw to first on a pickoff would send him all the way to third before Marks pulled a ball through the drawn in infield to push the lead back up by a pair.
In typical fashion however, the Monks would bring a flare for the dramatics with them in the ninth scoring a pair of runs to even the game thanks in large to part to a pair of infield miscues. After two runners reached on infield errors, Joey Murphy would single to load the bases with one out. Lops would collect his second RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly to right. Jameson Collins then singled through the left side to even the game with two outs before Cal Carroll escaped further damage sending the game into the tenth.
Marks would lead off the inning hitting a sharp groundball to second that was misplayed. Following a wild pitch, Lapolla was then walked before another wild pitch would advance the runners forcing for an intentional walk to Jake Frasca to set up a potential force out at the plate. Speliotis would then come off the bench to draw the third base on balls in the inning for the go-head run.
Jake Frasca pitched a scoreless 10th inning for his second save of the season. Frasca also pitched the seventh and eight innings before giving way to Carroll and going back to second base in the ninth. Carroll (3-2) earned the win pitching the ninth while not allowing an earned run.
Frasca allowed one run on three hits in three innings of work while striking out a pair, including the final out of the ball game.
Kevin Sinatra started the game for Suffolk on the mound as he allowed just one run through six innings while fanning five Monks' hitters in the no-decision.
Suffolk totaled just six hits in the win. Chant was 2-for-4 with a double and a walk while scoring three times.
Chant earned GNAC Tournament Most Valuable Player honors. The sophomore centerfielder finished the four-game stretch hitting .588 (10-for-17) with eight runs scored, four doubles and also hit a go-ahead two run homer in Thursday's 7-4 win over Lasell College.
Chant was 5-for-5 with two doubles and a pair of runs scored in the opener of Sunday's championship, an 8-7 setback.
St. Joseph's took the first game after erasing a five run deficit in the first to force the winner take all game two.
Suffolk put together a 14-hit attack in the opener as Kevin Belskie was also 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored. Belskie connected on his second home run of the season, a two run shot to right to cap off a five run first.
Corey McNamara would settle in on the mound however for the Monks going seven innings to earn the victory. McNamara, St. Joe's closer made just his fourth career start and first of the 2016 season. The senior righthander pitched two innings on Saturday evening in the Monks' 2-0 victory over Lasell College in the elimination game to earn his seventh save of the season before rolling around for the nod in game one Sunday. He would give way to Josh Partridge who earned the save throwing the final 1 1/3 innings for his first of the year. Partidge was the starter for St. Joe's on Friday as he went eight innings in an 8-1 win over Johnson & Wales University.
Lops was 3-for-5 with a pair of RBI in game one including a two-run single in the third that made it a 5-3 game.
St. Joe's would add three in the fourth inning to take the lead at 6-5 when Reuillard struck for a two-run triple. The Monks would add insurance runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings as Taylor Black and Brett Barbati each added RBI singles.
The Monks entered the tournament as the top-seed with a 12-2 record in conference play on the season. Following Sunday's action they stand at a 25-13 mark on the year with only MIT left on the slate for a non-conference game on Thursday May 12.
Since 2008, both teams have met in the conference championship game a total of eight times with the winner being decided in a one-run ballgame on four occasions.
Suffolk improves to a 33-11 record on the 2016 season. The 33 wins are the second most victories in program history trailing the 2000 season in which Suffolk posted a 38-9 record.
Suffolk will now be idle until May 18 when the NCAA Regional Tournament commences. The New England regional will be played at Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic. Pairings and tournament seedings will be announced late Sunday May 16.