Lexington, S.C. – The Trinity College baseball team went back and forth with the Western New England University Golden Bears but ultimately fell, 12-8, on Monday late-afternoon at the Lexington County Stadium on the third day of the Bantam Southern Classic in South Carolina. Trinity falls to 3-2 on the year after the setback against its regional foe while WNE improves to 3-2. The Bantams return to action on Tuesday night for a 7 p.m. game under the lights versus William Peace University.
Trinity struck first with a run in the top of the second when first-year 3B Mike Guanci Jr. (Wakefield, Mass.) laced a single down the left field line that scored senior tri-captain 1B Johnny Stamatis (Ridgefield, Conn.) from second. The Bantams threatened for more but left a pair stranded as WNE escaped the inning, trailing just 1-0.
The one-run game didn't last long as the Bantams scored three runs in the top of the third to jump out to a 4-0 lead. Stamatis started the scoring with a hard-hit sac fly to right field that brought home senior SS Ben Reinisch (Troy, N.Y.). Junior tri-captain C Alex Rodriguez (South Windsor, Conn.) kept the wheels turning, driving in junior RF Matt Koperniak (Adams, Mass.) on a fielder's choice before executing a perfect double-steal with classmate LF Mack Lauder (Chappaqua, N.Y.). Rodriguez broke for second during the following at bat but got hung up between first and second to bait the Golden Bears into a rundown. This allowed Lauder to take off for home and beat the throw from the shortstop to put the Bantams ahead, 4-0.
WNE chipped away at the deficit in the home half of the third, scoring a run on an RBI-single off the bat of Zac Nussbaum (Bridgewater, Mass.). Nussbaum came up with a base knock to right field that plated Alex Loparco (Riverside, Conn.) to make it a 4-1 game.
The Golden Bears added two more runs in the bottom of the fourth in the form of a two-run home run from Joe Webber (Marshfield, Mass.). After Brian Valeriano (Stratford, Conn.) was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame, Webber came up and cranked one over the right field fence to bring WNE to within one. The rally continued as the Golden Bears loaded the bases with just one out, which set the stage for Erik Lacaire (Worcester, Mass.). Lacaire took a breaking ball and hammered it over the left field fence for a grand slam, putting WNE ahead for the first time on the afternoon, 7-4.
Trinity responded in the following half inning thanks to a clutch, two-out, two-run single to centerfield from Rodriguez. Rodriguez worked the count to 2-2 before driving a base hit up the middle that plated Stamatis and Lauder.
After trading zeros in the sixth, Trinity put a pair of runners on base in the seventh with just one out. WNE made a move to the bullpen, bringing in Patrick Westerlind (Auburn, Mass.) who came on and retired the next two Bantam batters to hold the one run lead. The Golden Bear bats added two runs in the bottom half of the inning on back-to-back RBI-singles. Kevin Johnson (Waterford, Conn.) went first with a base hit to left field before Sebby Grignano (Meriden, Conn.) pushed a bunt to the right side with runners on first and third that landed in no-man's land, scoring Webber.
The Bantams clawed back in the top of the eighth, scoring twice without recording an out, but WNE worked its way out of the jam to maintain a 9-8 lead. After a base hit by senior Ian Steckel (Winchester, Mass.) and a walk by senior CF Geoff Stillman (Scituate, Mass.), sophomore 2B Robbie Cronin(Wellesley Hills, Mass.) came up with a base hit down the first base line, scoring Steckel. Stillman crossed the plate just a batter later on an RBI-single to right from Reinisch.
WNE's bats came through once again, this time in the eighth, adding three insurance runs on back-to-back bombs. Ben LaCroix (Branford, Conn.) sent a two-run shot over the right field fence, prompting a Trinity pitching change, before Valeriano hit a solo homer to left field to give the Golden Bears a 12-8 lead which stood as the final. WNE southpaw Sean Halligan (North Branford, Conn.), who came on in the eighth, retired the side in order in the ninth to seal the victory and pick up his second save of the season.