BOSTON – The second-seeded Suffolk baseball handled business in the GNAC Semifinals Saturday, defeating fourth-seeded Johnson & Wales, 11-1, at Fraser Field, to secure a spot in the conference championship. The Rams title hunt continues in the championship contest tonight, Sunday, May 7 at 5:30 p.m. at Fraser with a rematch with the Wildcats, who eliminated the field's third seed Lasell in the elimination game Saturday night.
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First Round – Tuesday, May 2 (Single Elimination)
GAME 1: #3 Lasell defeated #6 Albertus Magnus, 18-12
GAME 2: #4 JWU defeated #5 Norwich, 7-6
Second Round – Thursday, May 4 (Double-Elimination Begins)
GAME 3: #2 Suffolk defeated #3 Lasell, 15-8
GAME 4: #4 JWU defeated #1 St. Joseph's (Maine), 6-3
Semifinals – Saturday, May 6 (Hosted by Rivier at Fraser Field, Lynn, Mass.)
GAME 5: #3 Lasell defeated #1 St. Joseph's (Maine) (Elimination Game), 6-3
GAME 6: #2 Suffolk defeated #4 JWU, 11-1
Game 7: #4 JWU defeated #3 Lasell, 15-1
Championship – Sunday, May 7 (Hosted by Rivier at Fraser Field, Lynn, Mass.)
GAME 8: #2 Suffolk vs. #4 JWU - 5:30 PM
GAME 9: if necessary – 4 PM
Suffolk will make its 11th consecutive trip to the conference championship contest and 14th overall crown chase since joining the conference ranks in 2000.
Seven of the Rams' nine everyday starters are hitting over .300 anchored by Suffolk's upperclassmen. Seth Coiley's .350 average leads the way with the senior left fielder producing 35 hits, 22 RBI and 28 runs scored. Kevin Belskie is second on the squad with a .347 average on 42 hits to record 33 RBI and 24 runs scored. Brady Chant is a threat in nearly every offensive category as the junior centerfielder owns 55 hits, 32 RBI and 41 runs scored with a slash line of .342/.401/.615. Luke Ronchi (.341/.440/.437; 43 H, 31 RBI, 34 R) and Matt Brenner (.341/.456/.519; 44 H, 33 RBI and 34 R) are also constant contributors to Suffolk's offense.
Suffolk's staff is propelled by the quartet of arms in Mark Fusco, Chuck Gibson, Ryan Pordes and Worth Walrod. Fusco's 1.16 ERA leads the way as the junior right-handed pitcher owns a 3-3 record in eight appearances, three starts with 31.0 innings of work and 22 Ks. Gibson joins Fusco with a sub 2.00 ERA, coming in at 1.97 through a 45.2 frames and has fanned 30 hitters. Pordes, who has seen the most action on the hill for the Rams, 61.0 innings, rounds out the trio with a 3.98 ERA and 46 strikeouts. Walrod, meanwhile, rounds out the foursome with a 4.26 ERA in 38.0 frames of work with 26 Ks.
LAST TIME OUT
The second-seed Suffolk baseball team took care of business in the GNAC semifinals as the Rams cruised past fourth-seeded Johnson & Wales, 11-1, at Fraser Field Saturday night to secure its place in the conference championship contest.
SUFFOLK IN THE GNAC TOURNEY
The Rams will be making their 18th straight appearance in the GNAC Tournament since joining the conference in 2000. Suffolk has escaped the do-or-die each of the six times it has to play in the tournament's first round and reached the championship series on 14 occasions, including the past 10 seasons, capturing the title six times. Overall, the Rams are 45-21 in GNAC post-season play and advance to the winner's bracket for the third straight season. Suffolk has won three of its six conference crowns as the tournament's second seed.
Johnson & Wales, the field's fourth seed, has already had a historic run in the post-season with a walk-off walk against Norwich sending the Wildcats to Thursday's second round where the Wildcats surprised #16/18 and the tournament's top seed St. Joseph's (Maine), 6-3, to advance to the winner's bracket. After falling to Suffolk, JWU cruised past #3 Lasell, 15-1, to reach the title tilt.
The trio of Dave Matthews, Rob Ballinger, and Lou Umberto are the Wildcats' threats at the plate. Matthews leads the way in average (.388), slugging percentage (.551), hits (57) and RBI (37) to go with 35 runs scored. Ballinger's 47 runs pace the pack as the junior outfielder hits .388 with 51 hits and 21 RBI to his credit. Umberto's .351 average on 52 hits with 31 runs scored and 24 RBI rounds out the threesome.
James Smiegocki and Rich Marshall are the top two arms for JWU. Smiegocki clocks in at a 2.15 ERA thorugh 54.1 innings featuring 35 strikeouts. Marshall serves as the Wildcats closer. The junior sports an ERA of 4.32 in 11 appearances with 14 Ks.
NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES
Brady Chant added more accolades to his growing resume as the junior won this week's national poll conducted by Herosports.com as the Offensive HERO of the Week in Division III baseball.
Brady Chant rewrote the Rams' record books on Patriots Day as the junior knocked his 10th triple of the season bringing his career total to 20 to sit atop Suffolk's single-season all-time triple marks.
MORE READING: Chant Sets Suffolk's Triple Record
If Suffolk captures the game Sunday night, the Rams will earn the conference's automatic berth to the 2017 NCAA Championship. If JWU upsets the Rams, a winner take all contest will be held.