NORTHBOROUGH, Mass.—Junior David Larson (Port Tobacco, Md.) hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the first and struck out 11 over eight innings to help second-seeded WPI defeat third-seeded and No. 7/7 Babson College, 5-1, in the opening game of the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament on Friday afternoon at the New England Baseball Complex.
Two-time defending NEWMAC Tournament champions Babson suffered their first conference playoff loss since 2016 and dip to 30-6 on the year, while WPI improves to 23-14 overall.
Junior Sean Harrington (Walpole, Mass.) doubled, walked twice and drove in a run, while senior Edward Lehr (Byram Township, N.J.) and junior Matthew Valente (Wyckoff, N.J.) both singled and walked for the Beavers, who left 11 runners on base. Senior Michael Genaro (Greenwich, Mass.) suffered his first loss since March 1 allowing four earned runs on five hits to go along with seven strikeouts in 7.0 innings.
Larson went 2-for-4 with three RBI at the dish while allowing just one run on seven hits and five walks in a 152-pitch effort on the hill for the Engineers. Senior Stephen Gallagher (Coventry, R.I.) also homered and classmate Ryan Tropeano (Pembroke, Mass.) singled, scored and drove in a run in the win.
The Green and White stranded a pair on base in the top of the first and WPI jumped on top in the bottom of the frame as Tropeano reached on an error, graduate student Matt Howard (Worcester, Mass.) singled to center and Larson followed with a three-run blast, his team-leading 12th of the year, to give the hosts a 3-0 edge. Harrington's ground-rule RBI double cut the deficit to 3-1 with one out in the fifth, but Babson left a pair in scoring position in the inning on the heels of leaving the bases loaded in the fourth.
Tropeano extended the Engineers' lead back to 4-1 with an RBI single in the fifth and Gallagher made it 5-1 with a solo blast with one out in the sixth. The Beavers left two more on in the seventh and were unable to cut into their deficit in the eighth after back-to-back one-out singles by Lehr and Valente.
Both teams return to action on Saturday as Babson will face No. 15/15 Wheaton in an elimination game at 12 p.m.., while WPI takes on MIT at 3 p.m. in Norton, Mass.
• The Beavers, who are 50-25 all-time against WPI, had their four-game winning streak against the Engineers snapped with Friday's loss.
• Babson is now 3-4 in NEWMAC Tournament play against WPI and Friday's game was the first between the teams in the postseason since 2014.
• Prior to Friday's loss, the Beavers had been 20-1 this spring when finishing with more hits than their opponents.
• Friday's loss also snapped Babson's 10-game road winning streak.