Friday, March 7, 2014
By KEN CASTRO Special to the Press Herald
HARWICH, Mass. - Western New England utilized a decisive second inning to eliminate St. Joseph's from the NCAA New England Regional Tournament on Friday, taking a 5-3 win at Whitehouse Field in Harwich.
The Monks concluded their season with a 31-14 record.
Western New England tacked up four runs in the second on a lone hit and four straight walks. Third baseman Mike Rubino's single was the key hit for the Golden Bears, giving them a 4-1 lead. A fly out to right brought home the final run of the inning.
Monks' starter Nick Whitaker, who worked 3 1/3 innings in taking the loss, stopped the damage by fanning Kyle McKelvey and Steve Ambrosio to close out the inning.
That was difficult," said Monks Coach Will Sanborn, describing that rough second inning.
"We had a little trouble finding the strike zone and then make some key errors and the inning snowballed on us. (Western New England) is a tough team to do that against and expect to come back.
"We had guys on base all day, we just couldn't get the big hit at the time."
Said Monks senior Mike Pratt: "That was not how we wanted to start the game. But we gave them a good fight.
"We knew if we cut it close we felt that we could get back into it. Again, it was untimely hitting. They got the runs early so we knew we had the length of the game to give us a chance. We still put up 11 hits to their seven, so it wasn't the lack of hitting, rather it was untimely hitting. They jumped on us early and coasted."
Although freshman relief pitcher Corey McNamara did an admirable job in shutting down the Golden Bears for the remainder of the game, the Monks offense failed to produce in the later innings.
In all, McNamara worked 52/3 innings of relief.
"He's done that all year for us," said Sanborn.
"He's a guy we didn't recruit, we recruited him to play basketball for us. He's been a gem, been clutch for us all year. It'll be great to have him here for three more years."
On Friday, the Monks got to opposing starter Nick Salerno for a pair of runs to narrow the gap in the fifth inning.
With runners on second and third, Joe Coyne's bounce out to short drove home a run to make it 5-2. Pratt then cracked his third hit of the game, an RBI single narrowing the gap to 5-3, but he was also thrown out at second trying to stretch his hit to a two-bagger.
Pratt, who had two multi-hit outings in the tournament, evened the score at 1-1 in the bottom half of the first when he stroked an offering from Salerno to drive home Sam Butts.
After the game, Sanborn said he expressed his admiration to the St. Joseph's seniors.
"I told them that they've had a great run here," he said.
"They've worked their butts off for the program and for me as well," added Sanborn. More importantly, they're good guys -- real character guys. It will be hard to lose them."