WESTFIELD, Mass. – For the second playoff game in-a-row, the Massachusetts Maritime Academy baseball team featured strong starting pitching and longball power, but once more, the combination was not enough as the Buccaneers were eliminated from the MASCAC Baseball Championship with a 6-4 loss to Salem State University. The Academy's IX will conclude their season at 18-15.
Mason Ashburn locked horns with the Vikings' Andrew McLaughlin through the first three frames, with neither side getting anything going. Salem struck first, with two runs in the third inning as Shawn Rebello singled and Alex Toomey followed with a run-scoring double. Toomey scored later in the inning on Joe White's RBI-base hit.
MMA tied the game at 2-2, scoring a single run in the third inning after designated hitter Nick Haley ripped a solo shot to left field, adding another single run in the third on base hits from Nathan Anderson and Connor Kennedy.
Salem grabbed the lead for good with two runs in the sixth, as RJ Warnock walked, MacDaniel Singleton singled, and both came around to score as Shawn Rebello rapped a sky-high Baltimore chop off of home plate, and the ball was thrown away trying to retire Rebello at first.
The Bucs had an opportunity to equalize in the latter half of the frame after Jackson Simone doubled to lead things off and moved to third on a passed ball. Billy Keane knocked him home with a sacrifice fly, but after Paul Sances re-started the rally with a base knock, he was caught stealing and a popout ended the comeback.
Salem added a solo home run from Jose Cedano in the seventh inning off reliever Wyatt Major, while Warnock drove in a run with a groundball after Kyle O'Connor and White singled following the dinger. Matt Smith would then enter with two runners on to get the Buccaneers out of the threat.
This time, however, the latter half of the frame passed without a Maritime score as McLaughlin powered through the top of the order 1-2-3. Smith then worked around two baserunners in the eighth before the Navy-and-Gold got back to work.
Logan Sullo singled and advanced to second on an error, scoring on an infield single by Haley. After Haley moved to second on a groundball, the Bucs had two outs to move the run home, but McLaughlin once more squashed the threat.
Smith once more worked in-and-out of danger in the ninth as all of the Viking's outs came on the base paths. McLaughlin returned to the bump for the ninth and induced fly balls from a pair of pinch hitters to start the frame.
However, Connor Kennedy, like several other seniors playing in his last game, singled to left. Furnas, graduating alongside Kennedy, walked, and Salem brought in Brock Riley to get out of the threat. Riley would face a third-straight senior in Sullo, but the battle to save the season ended with a popout.
Mason Ashburn (4-4) took the pitching loss for Maritime despite surrendering only two earned runs on six hits and four walks. The rookie southpaw struck out eight in six frames. Smith finished with 2 1/3 innings of scoreless ball. Kennedy finished with three hits for the Buccaneers, while Haley added a pair.
Rebello and White each finished with three hits for Salem, while McLaughlin scattered 11 hits over 8.2 innings, striking out four and walking two, and surrendering four runs, two earned.
Salem (22-18) advanced to the MASCAC semifinals, while Mass Maritime's season comes to a close with an 18-15 record. It was the final game for five starting seniors out of a total of seven graduating players, including co-captains Kennedy and Keane.
The Academy will next play host to the NCAA Division-III Regionals beginning May 17 at Whitehouse Field in Harwich, Mass. Make sure to bookmark www.mmabucs.com and get the inside scoop on Facebook and Twitter @mmabuccaneers. Plus, check out our new Instagram @massmaritimebuccaneers.
Gabriel Fidler, Sports Information Associate, with copy from Dave Caspole, Westfield State University