BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – Matt Smith tossed a shutout in game one and Casey Furnas delivered on the offensive end set up Nick Haley, who give the Mass Maritime Academy baseball team a MASCAC sweep of Bridgewater State University with a game-inning home run in the nightcap. The 2-0, 5-3 wins moved the Buccaneers into a tie for first place in the conference with one series remaining.
The opener of the twinbill was a pitcher's duel from the get-go, as Bridgewater's Shawn Smeglin matched zeroes with the Bucs' Matt Smith for the first four innings. A pickoff in the third scuppered what would have been MMA's first run of the game, but Furnas ensured the scoring drought would not last past the fifth.
Paul Sances (Middleboro, Mass.) led off with a double in the frame and Ben Paine bunted him to third. After a strikeout, Connor Kennedy (West Barnstable, Mass.) walked and stole second and Furnas dropped a bloop single to right field to plate both runners.
Meanwhile, Matt Smith (Lowell, Mass.) was in complete control in his second MASCAC start of the year, mixing his usual blend of ground balls and swings and misses. The Bears had only two runners in scoring position until the final frame, when Smith worked out of a nerve-wracking jam.
In that inning, Ryan Kelleher laced a two-bagger to left center and moved to third on a one-out wild pitch. Sean Casey drew a base on balls and Smith uncorked another wild throw to move him over, but Kelleher raced home on the pitch and Logan Sullo (Acushnet, Mass.) tossed a perfect strike to Smith at home plate for the second out of the inning. A groundball sealed the deal for the Buccaneers.
Smith (3-4) tossed a complete game shutout, scattering six hits and three walks, fanning two in his seven innings of work. The outing was reminiscent of the first game at renovated Hendy Field, in which the sophomore tossed eight scoreless frames, working around soft hits and inducing contact.
Furnas (Boca Raton, Fla.) was a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate in game one to lead a Maritime team that had only five hits. Kelleher was the only Bear with more than one safety as BSU left nine runners on base.
Smeglin pitched very well in his first collegiate start for the Bears, going the distance on the hill. The Wakefield, Mass. native allowed just the two runs on five hits with three walks and six strikeouts.
After an outstanding 6 1/3-shutout inning relief appearance against MCLA last week, freshman Colin Thoener (Foxborough, Mass.) earned his first collegiate start and had a jittery start. After hitting Casey with one out, Matt Levasseur unloaded for a two-run dinger to left field and a quick 2-0 lead.
From there, however, Thoener settled down, getting two quick outs. Maritime drew two walks in the second, as it had in the first, but even with a throwing error after the initial free pass, the Bucs could not solve the effectively wild Alex McGrath.
The game sailed through the third before a one-out Haley (Hanson, Mass.) double was followed by walks to Sances and Paine to load the base. McGrath re-adjusted, though, and got a big K and a groundball to end the threat.
With McGrath dealing, the Bears added what appeared to be an insurance run in the bottom of the frame. Reed Pike doubled to start things off and an error and a sac bunt put two runners in scoring position. Dominic Precopio lofted a fly ball to left to score one, but Thoener got the next batter on another flyout.
It was nothing doing in the fifth and reliever X Cavaioli worked around a one-out Haley two-bagger in the top of the sixth. Wyatt Major (Mattapoisett, Mass.) had a messy bottom of the frame, but a strong through from slick-fielding Jackson Simone at first caught a runner at home for the key out.
However, the Buccaneer bats came alive in the seventh as reliever Jarrett Archambault Nate Anderson (East Longmeadow, Mass.) and Connor Kennedy opened the frame with back-to-back singles. After a fielder's choice ground out, Sullo smacked a two-run triple to right.
Billy Keane (Braintree, Mass.) followed with a RBI double to the gap in left-center to knot the score at 3-3 and set up Haley's heroics. One out later, Haley belted a two-run homer well over the left field fence to give the Buccaneers a 5-3 lead.
The Bears loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the seventh but were unable to score. John Teehan (Hyde Park, Mass.), who has served alternately as an excellent starter and a game-ending stopper, got out of the jam with back-to-back strikeouts and a harmless foul pop out to end the game.
Haley went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and the game-winning home run in his finest effort of the year. No other player had more than one hit, though Kennedy hit safely on both ends of the doubleheader. Pike was the only Bear with multiple hits as he was 2-for-3 with a double. Mass. Maritime left eight runners on base in game two, while Bridgewater State stranded 11 including the bases loaded in both the sixth and seventh innings.
Thoener went five innings, surrendering two earned runs on four hits and two free passes, striking out three. Major (2-0) worked out of a bases loaded, nobody out jam in the sixth. Teehan earned his third save of the season, tied for second in the conference. The first-year hurler is also among the league leaders in strikeouts per nine innings.
On Monday, it was announced that Teehan was listed on the MASCAC Honor Roll, his second weekly nod after winning both Pitcher of the Week and Rookie of the Week seven days earlier. The hurler struck out six in a Senior Day win over Westfield State University, with one coming with the bases loaded and only one out as Teehan showed the veteran poise he has displayed this year.
Alex McGrath (Bridgewater, Mass.) hurled five scoreless innings on the mound for the Bears, but did not factor in the decision. McGrath allowed just one hit, walked six and struck out four. Archambault (0-4) was charged with three runs on three hits after entering the game with two runners on and nobody out in the seventh.
The visiting Buccaneers improved to 15-13 on the season and 8-4 in the MASCAC, while Bridgewater falls to 5-20 overall and 1-11 in conference play. The club returns home for a single game against Wentworth Institute (10-14) on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. before concluding MASCAC play. With one series left to play, MMA is in a tie with Westfield for first play in the league and will host second-from-the-bottom Worcester State (11-22, 5-6) on Saturday as part of its Grand Re-Opening Day. Meanwhile, the Owls will battle the cellar-dwelling Bears.
Pre-game ceremonies at Commodore William R. Hendy Field will commence 20 minutes before the game as the Academy celebrates the new all-turf ballpark. More information on the festivities will be available soon. 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 Michael Holbrook, Bridgewater State