BABSON PARK, Mass. -- Springfield College senior Greg Marakovits (Rocky Hill, Conn.) struck out 12 batters in a complete-game five-hitter to propel the second-seeded Pride to a 3-1 victory over fourth-seeded WPI in an elimination game of the 2012 New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Baseball Tournament at Babson's Govoni Field on Saturday afternoon.
With the win, Springfield (20-14) advances to next Saturday's play at Wheaton College, where they will take on third-seeded Babson in a rematch of today's first game. Babson won that contest by a score of 4-3. The winner of that tilt will then meet top-seeded Wheaton in the championship round later that afternoon.
With their second loss of the day, the Engineers saw their NEWMAC Tournament run come to a close with an record of 22-17.
Marakovits (4-2) was brilliant on the mound for the Pride, allowing just one run on five hits, walking three and fanning 12. His only blemish came in the top of the third inning, when WPI senior Mitch McClune (Pembroke, Mass.) drew a leadoff walk and later scored the first run of the game on a one-out double to center by senior John Flynn (Albion, Maine).
That 1-0 lead held up until the bottom of the fifth, when Springfield finally pushed a run across against Engineers' senior starter Eric Johnson (Rutland, Mass.). Junior Kyle DiFranco (East Longmeadow, Mass.) and senior Mike Corletta (Westtown, N.Y.) hit back-to-back singles with one out and, after a fly out to center, first-year Steve Starr (Lebanon, Conn.) ripped a single up the middle to plate DiFranco and tie the score, 1-1.
The difference in the game proved to be a pair of unearned runs in the home half of the seventh, beginning with an errant throw on a fielder's choice that put runners on the corners with just one out. First-year Shane O'Leary (Kings Park, N.Y.) followed with a sacrifice fly to center to make it 2-1 in favor of the Pride, and moments later a wild pitch enabled Corletta to Scamper home from third for a 3-1 Springfield advantage.
WPI threatened in the top of the eighth, when a single by Flynn and a walk to junior Brendan Walsh (Windham, N.H.) put the tying runs on with one down. Second baseman Corletta then made a fantastic play on a groundball to his left with Marakovits covering for the second out of the frame, and the senior righthander followed with his 11th strikeout of with runners at second and third to get out of the inning unscathed.
The Engineers brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but a double play followed by Marakovits' 12th and final strikeout finished off the 3-1 Springfield victory.
Johnson (3-3) was outstanding in defeat for WPI, surrendering just one earned run on six hits, walking two and striking out four in seven strong innings. First-year Taylor Landry (Kennebunk, Maine) came on and pitched a scoreless eighth for the Engineers, allowing one hit and one walk.
Flynn and Starr each went 2-for-4 with an RBI to pace their respective offenses, while DiFranco had one hit and scored twice in three trips for the Pride.
Release courtesy of Babson College Sports Information