Beavers Extend Winning Streak to 11, Clinch Second Straight NCAA Tournament Berth
BABSON PARK, Mass.—Junior Eric Jaun (Loveland, Ohio) had four hits and drove in three runs, while classmate Connor Gill (Sterling, Mass.) added three hits and scored three times as Babson College defeated Wheaton College, 11-5, in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament final on Sunday afternoon at Govoni Field.
Babson, which has won 11 straight games, improves to 32-10 with its second consecutive NEWMAC Tournament championship. The back-to-back titles are the first for the Beavers since 1996 and 1997 when they won the Constitution Athletic Conference (CAC). Wheaton, which is 10th in the most recent NCAA regional rankings, likely sees its season come to a close at 23-17.
Senior Ryan Arena (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) went 3-for-4 with two runs scored, while classmate Mark Webber (Norwell, Mass.) and sophomores Jake Oliger (Newtown, Conn.) and Matthew Valente (Wyckoff, N.J.) all drove in two runs apiece for the Beavers. Junior Michael Genaro (Greenwich, Conn.) struck out five and allowed five runs over 7.1 innings to improve to 8-1 with the win. Sophomore William Gallagher (Kingston, Mass.) and senior Matt Cuneo (Ashland, Mass.) needed just seven total pitches to record the final five outs.
Senior Chris Ruocco (Lexington, Mass.) and junior Connor Gammond (Spring Lake, N.J.) both had three hits and scored once to pace the Lyons' 11-hit attack. Classmate Jared Sharkey (West Bridgewater, Mass.) had a three-run homer and drove in four in the loss.
Sophomore Trevor Marques (Lincoln, R.I.) started but was unable to get out of the third inning after giving up five runs on three hits and three walks to suffer his first loss of the year.
Wheaton took a 3-0 lead on the strength of a three-run blast to right by Sharkey in the first and made it 4-1 in the second on Gammond's RBI double to the gap in left center. The lead was short-lived however, as the Green and White erupted for four runs in the bottom of the third.
Junior Brian McHale (Ramsey, N.J.), Gill and Arena loaded the bases with three straight singles, and Webber and sophomore Sean Harrington (Walpole, Mass.) drew back-to-back walks to cut the deficit to 4-3. Jaun came through with an RBI single to right and Oliger plated Webber with a sacrifice fly to center for a 5-4 advantage.
After stranding runners in both the fourth and fifth innings, the Beavers broke things open with a four-run sixth. Gill, Arena and Webber all singled up the middle, the last one driving in a run to make it 6-4. Valente, Jaun and Oliger then produced three straight RBI knocks to help Babson extend the margin to 9-4.
Sharkey got the Lyons within four with an RBI single in the top of the eighth, but the Green and White answered with a pair of runs thanks to Jaun and senior David Lennon (Windermere, Fla.) to make it a six-run game.
Babson will find out where it is headed and who it will play in the NCAA Tournament late when the Division III field is released late next Sunday.
• The Beavers, who are 27-42 all-time against Wheaton, have won eight straight and nine of their last 10 games against the Lyons going back to last season.
• Gill, who was selected as the Tournament Most Outstanding Player, earned the win with a complete-game victory over MIT on Friday and was 4-for-8 with three runs scored in two games against the Lyons.
• Genaro, who has won six consecutive starts, earned his 17th career win on Sunday and tied Andrew Aizendstadt '11 and Sam Kilpatrick '97 for the most victories in a season with eight.
• Bason finishes the season with a 13-1 mark at Govoni Field and has now won 22 of its last 23 at home going back to April 22 of last year.