Castleton, VT - The Lyndon State College baseball team battled back from a 5-0 deficit to pick up a 6-5 walk off win over New England College in the first round of the double elimination North Atlantic Conference Championship Tournament on Saturday afternoon. Zak Johnson (East Hampton, CT) came through with a two run walk off bases loaded single in the bottom of the ninth inning to cap the rally.
The Hornets, now 20-18 on the season, will play host Castleton University in the winner's bracket final Sunday morning at 11:00 am. The Pilgrims fall to 24-14 on the season, and will face the University of Maine at Farmington in an elimination game later Saturday afternoon.
NEC struck quickly in the top of the first inning. Christian Aybar (Pawtucket, RI) led the game off with an infield single. Justin Carey (Amherst) followed with a double to score Aybar. Carey advanced to third on a throwing error, then scored when Evan Delaney (Hadley, MA) grounded out to Ben Rollins (Lincolnville, ME) at second.
The Hornets threatened in the bottom of the first. Jason Doris (Lincoln, RI) laced a one out double to center off of Pilgrim starter Nick Powers (Malden, MA). Andre Eason Jr. (Waterbury, CT) then singled to left, moving Doris to third. However Doris was thrown out trying to score on a wild pitch, then Codi Smith (Hartford, VT) filed out to deep left to end the inning.
The Pilgrims put two runners on in the top of the second inning, but Hornet starter James Mundy (Brentwood, NH) was able to get out of the inning without allowing either to score. The Hornets were only able to muster a Ryder Thorton (Essex, VT) infield single in the bottom half.
Mundy set the Pilgrims down in order in the top of the third inning, but Powers also kept the Hornets off the board in the bottom half, allowing only a Ryan Cordeiro single.
NEC added a run in the top of the fourth. Jameson Carey (Amherst, MA) led off with an infield single and Luis Atiles (Dorchester, MA) followed with another single. After the runners were bunted over a base, Carey scored on a sacrifice fly from Manuel Andujar (West New York, NY), making it 3-0, NEC.
Lyndon looked to get something going in the bottom of the fourth when Smith singled and Johnson drew a walk. Thje Hornets were unable to capitalize, however, and both runners were stranded.
The Pilgrims tacked on a pair of unearned runs in the top of the fifth inning. Justin Carey led off with a single back up the middle, moved to second on a passed ball, and scored when Delaney reached on an error. Delaney later scored on Jeam Castillo's (Lynn, MA) sacrifice fly. Mundy was able to avoid further damage when he got Jameson Carey to ground into an inning ending double play.
The Hornets finally broke through in the bottom of the fifth. Zach Hale (St. Johnsbury, VT) got things started by drawing a one out walk off of Powers, and Cordeiro reached on an error. After Doris walked to load the bases, Eason delivered a single through the right side of the infield, scoring Cordeiro and Tyler Roberge (Essex, VT), who had entered the game as a pinch runner for Hale. Smith then walked to load the bases and chase Powers. Jameson Carey relieved Powers and struck out Johnson before walking Thorton to send Doris home with Lyndon's third run. Rollins then grounded out to third to end the inning.
After Mundy fell behind Atiles 3-0, to lead off the top of the sixth he was replaced by Neil Robinson (Stoddard, NH). The Pilgrims produced a pair of base runners, but Robinson was able to strike out Justin Carey to end the inning. Jameson Carey then retired the Hornets in order in the bottom of the inning.
Robinson set NEC down in order in both the seventh and the eight innings, and Tyler Davis (Groton, VT) came on to pitch a 1-2-3 ninth. However Carey did the same to the Hornets in the seventh. Rollins reached on an error in the Hornet half of the eight, but was otherwise unable to mount a threat.
David Laroche (Franklin, VT) came on to pinch hit leading off the bottom of the ninth inning. He was hit by a pitch and lifted for pinch runner Collin Clark (Rutland, VT). Cordeiro then lifted a single to right to put the tying runs on for the Hornets. Stanley Vargas (Boston, MA) replaced Carey on the mound for NEC. The runners then moved up on a wild pitch, then Doris drew a walk to load the bases. Caleb Laroche (Franklin, VT) came on to pinch run for Doris. Eason reached on a fielder's choice to score Clark and make it 5-4. Smith worked Vargas for a walk to load the bases again. Johnson then came through with a two run single to right to give the Hornets the walk off win.
Eason had a pair of hits and drove in three runs to lead the Lyndon attack. Cordeiro also had two hits and scored two runs. Justin Carey led NEC with three hits on the day. Davis picked up the win in relief, while Vargas took the loss.