BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. – Sophomore Matt Smith delivered his second straight gem on the mound and Buccaneer bats timed their hits well in a 4-1 non-conference victory over visiting Wentworth Institute of Technology. Massachusetts Maritime Academy has now won three in-a-row and 6-of-7 en route to a 9-7 record in 2018.
Both teams had runners in scoring position in the first, but it was not until the bottom of the second that either team scored. Angus McNeil went with the ball and stroked his first collegiate hit to right field to lead off the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice by Matt Langan. Marley Dembitzki then roped a single to center to give the Bucs a lead they would not relinquish.
In typical Smith fashion, the right-hander gave up several fluky hits, but responded with key strikeouts and groundballs. The Lowell, Mass. Native had only a single 1-2-3 inning, but looked in control for virtually every pitch.
Meanwhile, Maritime hitters put together another run-scoring frame in the fourth after Logan Sullo was hit by the pitch on a 3-1 count. McNeil had another safety and, with two outs, Dembitzki once more drove in a run with a one-base hit.
The Leopards scored their only run in the fifth after No. 9 hitter Dan Mitchell lofted a fly to deep center that got caught in the wind and kept sailing. Owen Swanson followed with a double, but Smith picked him off with some help from three of his infielders to limit the damage.
In the bottom of the frame, Casey Furnas beat out a ball to the left side with one out and Sullo lifted a fly ball down the right field line that just stayed in the yard. The two-bagger put two on and Nick Haley, who hit the first home run in renovated Hendy Field history in the last Buc home game, drilled a double off the top of the wall in center. The blow scored a pair and made it 4-1.
Smith went seven excellent innings, setting a career high with 11 strikeouts, of which an impressive four went by looking. Smith scattered eight hits and three walks in improving to 2-3 and dropping her ERA to 5.72. He has now struck out a whopping 35 in only 28 1/3 innings, third most in MASCAC. His 11.11 strikeouts per nine innings ranks six in the conference.
Colin Thoener earned his first save with two scoreless innings, striking out two. The 13 combined Ks for him and Smith fell one short of a MMA record for a game.
Brendan Winch (1-1) took the loss despite allowing only one run in three innings, scattering three hits and striking out one. Caleb Eaton (2 2/3) and Nate McDonald (2 1/3) finished out the game for the Leopards.
"The pitchers were incredible today," remarked Head Coach Mike Kelly. "The hitters did just enough to get the job done and the fielding behind them was good."
MMA banged out 11 hits, though Leopard pitching did not allow any base on balls. Furnas and Dembitzki were the only two players with multiple hits, while Sullo scored two runs and reached base twice. Dembitzki was 1-for-2 on stolen bases.
Pending weather, the Bucs will travel to Salem State University for a MASCAC noon doubleheader on Saturday and welcome Emerson College for a non-conference twinbill a day later. Admission to Hendy Field is free for the noon first pitch.
Gabriel Fidler, Sports Information Associate