HARWICH, Mass. – For the first time in over a decade the Suffolk baseball team found itself in the win column at the NCAA regional bracket as the sixth-seeded Rams shutout third-seed, #22/18 St. John Fisher in the first round of the New England Regional Thursday night at Whitehouse Field to advance into the winner's bracket for the first time in its seven regional trips.
SCORE: Suffolk 4, #22/18 St. John Fisher 0
RECORDS: Suffolk (27-15) | #22/18 St. John Fisher (30-11)
HOW IT HAPPENED
Kevin Higgins produced the first Rams' hit of the day with a single through the left side and was pushed over as Brady Chant wore a pitch. The runners advanced to third thanks to Sean Cameron's perfectly placed sac bunt, his second of the evening. Seth Coiley barreled a rocket at Cardinals' shortstop Evan Ryan, who bobbled the ball, allowing Suffolk's sophomore third baseman Higgins to put the first run up on the board.
After sitting down the Cardinal in order and stranding two in the top of the fourth, Chuck Gibson and the Rams found themselves in a jam in the home half of the fourth. With runners on first and second Gibson sat down his fourth batter swinging. Coiley secured the second out with a fly out to left, before a 64 fielder's choice kept Suffolk up by one.
Suffolk stranded a pair of base runners in the fifth before four straight three-up, three-down half innings ensued. St. John Fisher looked to make moves in the seventh. With one down, Gibson walked his first batter of the day before sitting down his eighth, matching a career best. Ryan Prevost singled to short and pinch hitter Jack Trotman drew a base on balls to chuck the bags. Thomas Pasquale drew a 2-2 count and popped up sending Matt Brenner back. The senior catcher made the grab to send Suffolk out of the inning with its one-run lead intact.
Brenner turned his defense into offense as the captain led off the eighth with a double to left. The Cardinals made a change on the mound with Kyle Chambers taking over. Greg Speliotis ran through a sac bunt and took first thanks to an error by St. John Fisher's first baseman Scott Eisenmenger. Luke Ronchi's walk was followed by base on balls from Kevin Belskie and BJ Neil stretch Suffolk's advantage to 3-0. Two runners and a pitching change later, Chant got in on the walk action, collecting an RBI with the Rams' fourth walk of the inning to push it to a four-run Suffolk game.
Gibson and the Rams kept the Cardinals quiet in the bottom of the eighth and St. John Fisher took down Suffolk in order in the top of the ninth to send the game into the ninth with the blue-and-gold ahead 4-0. Ronchi's diving catch in right put the first out on the board. A walk later, Gibson punched out his ninth batter of the day, seventh swinging to put two down. Higgins secured the third out to seal up the 4-0 win.
- Suffolk's four hits came off four different bats with Chant, Cameron, Brenner and Higgins all producing one apiece.
- Brenner was the only player in the outing to hit for extra bases, recording one double.
- Chant, Coiley, Belskie and Neil each contributed one RBI apiece, while Brenner, Zach Grogan, Ronchi and Higgins scored one run apiece.
- Gibson put together a complete-game five-hit, three-walk, nine-strikeout shutout to lift the Rams to victory.
- Anthony Brophy suffered his first setback of the season for the Cardinals, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits and four walks with four strikeouts in the first 7.0 frames.
- Chambers and Ryan Felske also saw the mound for St. John Fisher.
- Suffolk captured its first NCAA Tournament win under Anthony Del Prete and first since 2005.
- The Rams advance into the winner's bracket for the first time in program history.
- The regional shutout is a first in program history for the Rams, while the four-run margin of victory is the second-largest for Suffolk in the Big Dance.
- The Rams remain unbeaten all-time versus St. John Fisher, moving to 3-0 all-time against the Cardinals.
- Suffolk took down its fifth Top 25 opponent of the season and fifth with Del Prete on the bench.
- Gibson is the first Rams' hurler to throw a complete-game in the regionals since Frank Tierney did so against MIT in 2015.
- Gibson improves to 8-1 on the season and putting him a three-way tie for ninth all-time on Suffolk's career annals with 18 victories in his career.
Suffolk advances into the winner's bracket and will face the victor of tonight's showdown between second-seeded Arcadia and seventh-seeded Worcester State at 8 p.m. tomorrow, Friday, May 19 at the historic diamond.