EAST BOSTON – Top-seeded Suffolk baseball started its journey to its fifth consecutive conference crown with a 4-3 GNAC Quarterfinals victory over fourth-seeded Lasell on a brisk Thursday night at East Boston Memorial Park.
SCORE: Suffolk 4 | Lasell 3
RECORDS: Suffolk (23-16-1) | Lasell (23-14)
HOW IT HAPPENED
A game-opening walked followed by back-to-back doubles, a ground-rule and one down the left field line, gave Lasell a 2-0 edge to start things off.
Suffolk used walks to chip away at the deficit as Rich Giandrea drew the third base-on-ball of the home half of the first with the bags juiced to cut the margin to 2-1.
Two innings later, the Rams leveled the playing field as Giandrea placed a base hit in shallow right field and Will Hopkins, who walked, turn on the wheels and slid home to turn it into a new game, 2-all.
Things flipped in the blue-and-gold's favor in the fourth. A walk put Shane Lake on first and Connor Troio put down a perfect bunt to move the sophomore 90 feet. The sophomore didn't stop there though as the Lasers' first baseman Brett Sherron overthrew third which let Lake score the go-ahead run.
Another two innings passed before the score changed again. This time it was Lasell who put one run on the board. Andre Marchesse tripled to right field and Sherron traded places with him with a triple of his own to the same spot to even the score at 3-all.
The Rams immediately responded in the bottom of the inning. Blase Cormier walked and snuck to second with the attention at the plate with the crowd thinking Hopkins got hit with a pitch, but was ruled a ball by the umpire. Hopkins then made up for the missed call with a single through the left side to bring in Cormier and give the Rams' the lead again, 4-3.
Similar to Suffolk, Lasell looked to make up ground once again in the top of the eighth. Rams' reliever Parker Browne put up two quick outs before giving up back-to-back walks. Thankfully, Suffolk's infielder handled's chopper to second to lock up the third out of the frame and keep the Lasers from threatening.
The Rams were unable to add insurance in the bottom of the eighth, but they ended up not needing any as Browne retired the side in the ninth to lock up the post-season triumph.
- Charles Batchelder earned the win on the mound with a one-run, two-hit, two-strikeout day in 1.2 innings. The senior RHP accounted for one-third of the Rams' Ks on the day.
- Brown notched the save after throwing 2.0 scoreless innings with a pair of walks and one punchout.
- Steven Rossi started on the bump and went 6.0 innings in which he let up two runs on five hits and four walks with three strikeouts.
- Zach Handzel had an impressive outing, tossing 132 pitches in 6.2 innings of work. He let up four runs (three earned) on four hits and seven Ks and fanned two batters.
- Sean Doris came out of the pen for the Lasers for 1.1 frames. He sat down two batters and walked one.
- Giandrea produced two RBI on one hit and one walk.
- Hopkins had one hit, one RBI, one run, one walk and one stolen base.
- Gilbride tallied one hit and one run.
- Brigham was responsible for Suffolk's lone extra-base hit, a double.
- Cormier and Lake each drew two walks and scored once.
- Suffolk advances to the winner's bracket for the fifth time in as many years.
- The Rams remain unbeaten against the Lasers in the GNAC Tournament all-time (6-0).
- Suffolk rattled off its 12th straight win over Lasell to move to 28-1 in the series.
- The blue-and-gold has picked up its last five GNAC Playoffs wins by a one-run margin.
- Suffolk ran its win streak in the league tournament to eight to move to 13-2 in the conference playoffs in the Anthony Del Prete era and 51-21 overall.
- Browne regiseterd his second save of the season, while Batchelder moved to 5-1 on the year.
Suffolk moves on in the winner's bracket and will take on second-seed Saint Josephs' (Maine) Saturday, May 4 at 1:30 p.m. at historic Fraser Field. The winner of Saturday's matinee punches its automatic ticket to the conference's championship contest Sunday, May 5.