MANSFIELD, Conn. – Trailing 5-0, Suffolk baseball turned up the volume in the sixth with multiple run homers from Seth Coiley and Jake Frasca to level the elimination game against top-seeded Wheaton in the second round of the 2016 NCAA Division III New England Baseball Regional at Eastern Connecticut State's Eastern Baseball Stadium Thursday morning. Despite momentum on the fifth-seeded Rams' side, the Lyons came out on top thanks to the winning run in the top of the ninth.
With the win, Wheaton (31-12) stays alive in the double-elimination tournament and will play the loser of xxx Tufts and Oswego at 1:15 p.m. Suffolk concludes its 2016 campaign at 33-13, the second most wins in program history, and making the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season and sixth time overall.
Wheaton wasted no time to do damage as the Lyons would go through their entire order in the first half inning of the day. Tallying the first out with the lead off hitter, the bases quickly loaded and a wild pitch let Joshua LaJoi cross home for the first run of the day. The bases remained full with one out and Mike Benduc's sac fly scored Matt Lavanch for the Lyons' second run of the day. Walrod hit Joy Santiga to keep the bases stacked and Jared Sharke wore Walrod's throw to make it a 3-0 Wheaton lead just one half inning in.
Looking to make up ground in the home half of the first, Suffolk was retired in order by Brady Furdon to keep it a three-run deficit. The Rams' hole grew to four in the second stanza thanks to LaJoi's first homer of the season.
Following the first scoreless inning for Wheaton, Furdon was on the verge of sitting down Suffolk's entire order, but Sean Cameron had something else in mind. With two outs, the junior shortstop lobbed a base hit to center to be the first Ram to get on base on the day. With Cameron in scoring position thanks to a walk by Brady Chant, Rob Marks sent a high fly to center, but the Lyons' Jimmy Smith made the grab to keep the Rams' off the scoreboard.
Zeros were put on the scoreboard on both sides in the fourth and fifth, respectively, before Suffolk was in another jam in the top of the sixth. Sharke led off with a single, sniped second, but was out at third on a fielder's choice that placed Ryan McKeon on first. A single through the right side by Smith put runners in the corners as McKeon moved to third. The Rams' coaching staff made a change on the mound as Walrod was pulled after 5.1 innings of work, 99 pitches, four runs and seven hits. Suffolk's new hurler, freshman Kevin Sinatra, played a key role in the second out as he pick up LaJoi's bunt tossed it to Matt Brenner at home who made the tag in time. Just one out of closing the inning, the Lyons' took advantage of a wild pitch from Sinatra to stretch their lead to 5-0.
Suffolk made moves in the bottom half of the inning. Chant reached on an error to lead off and Marks' single up the middle moved him over and put two runners on base for just the second time for the Rams on the day. Coiley saw an opportunity and took advantage as he knocked his thirad ball out of the park this season to cut the deficit to two runs. With Jon Lapolla on first thanks to a hopping single up the middle, Frasca matched Coiley's homer with one of his own, his eighth of the year, to lock the game at 5-all. Wheaton made a switch on the bump with Jared Clemen replacing Furdon, who went 5 innings, giving up five runs on six hits. Behind the fresh arm the Lyons kept things even with three straight outs.
Sinatra and the Rams were put into another sticky situation in the top of the seventh. With Wheaton runners on second and third and two outs, Frasca moved from second to the mound. The freshman sealed the final out of the frame to keep the game at 5-5.
Coiley continued to have a day as he made a highlight catch in the field. The sophomore right fielder made a diving grab on the warning track to hold the Lyons in the top of the eighth.
Wheaton jumped ahead by one in the top of the ninth. With one out, Mike Benduc, who doubled down the left line, rounded the bases on Joey Santiga's single to center field. Chant made the throw home to Brenner, but was one second to late as Benduc slid the run in to give the Lyons a 6-5 cushion.
With their backs against the wall, two outs on the scoreboard and down one, Chant had a full count and sent a fly ball to center, but Smith was underneath it to end the Rams' season.
Four of Suffolk's seven hits came in the sixth inning with Lapolla being the lone Ram to rack up multiple hits on the day. Coiley and Frasca were responsible for all of Suffolk's RBI with three and two, respectively.