WORCESTER, Mass.—Sophomore Ashley Tango (Reading, Mass.) drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th inning as fourth-seeded Babson College staved off elimination with a 5-3 win over second-seeded Springfield College in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament action on Thursday night at Rooftop Field.
Babson (27-13), which is fifth in this week's NCAA regional rankings, forced a winner-take-all final on Saturday with a pair of wins on Thursday. Springfield (32-8), which is ranked first in the region, suffered its first loss of the tournament.
Sophomore Josephine Mares (Houston, Texas) went 4-for-6 with an RBI, while senior Leslie Moore (Atkinson, N.H.) had three hits and scored once for the Beavers. Junior Samantha Smith (Hillsborough, N.J.), first-year Annie Mitchell (Rehoboth, Mass.) and Tango all finished with two hits apiece in support of junior Ali Reilly (New Canaan, Conn.), who held the Pride scoreless over the final 10 innings.
First-year Allie Wheeler (Agawam, Mass.) smacked a three-run homer and junior Talia Loda (East Haven, Conn.) had two hits and scored once for Springfield. Loda (19-3) also tossed a complete game in the circle allowing three earned runs on 16 hits while striking out six.
The Pride took a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the first on Wheeler's three-run blast to left, and Loda made it stand up until the Green and White rallied for a pair of two-out runs in the sixth. The Beavers produced four straight base hits, including run-scoring singles from first-year Jacqueline Paul (Burlington, N.J.) and Mares to tie the game.
Both teams stranded runners in both the ninth and 10th innings before Babson finally broke the deadlock with two more two-out runs in the 11th. Paul, who started the frame on second base, moved to third on a knock by Moore and then scored one batter later on Tango's infield single. First-year Victoria Casey (Emerson, N.J.) followed with a base hit through the left side to drive Moore for a 5-3 lead.
Reilly (12-7), who retired the final eight hitters she faced, closed out the win in style with back-to-back strikeouts. She scattered 10 hits and fanned 10 while issuing just two walks to pick up her fourth career NEWMAC Tournament win with a complete-game effort.
The Beavers and Pride will play for the NEWMAC Tournament crown on Saturday at 12 p.m. in Springfield.
• Babson and Springfield have split four meetings this season entering Saturday's championship game.
• The Beavers' 16 hits on Thursday night were one short of their season high, which came in an 11-2 win over Plymouth State back on March 23.
• Reilly and first-year Brooke Stock (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), who blanked WPI 1-0 in Thursday's first elimination game, have combined to go 4-1 with a 0.90 ERA and 44 strikeouts over 39.0 innings in the 2017 NEWMAC Tournament.
• Babson is 3-0 this season in extra-inning games.
• The Beavers, who making their first NEWMAC Tournament championship game appearance since 2013, are 8-4 in elimination games going back to 2011.