Worcester, MA --- Senior Ben Libuda (Auburn, MA) spun an eight-hitter with five strikeouts and sophomore Adam Barry (Auburn, MA/Holy Name) went 3-for-4 as they both helped pace Worcester State to a 7-1 victory over #6 Fitchburg State in the opening round of the MASCAC Baseball Tournament at the Lyons Baseball Diamond.
The Lancers (24-14) will play at second-seeded Salem State in the conference tournament quarterfinals, to start off double elimination play. The Falcons end their 2015 campaign at 12-19.
Worcester State started off the win or go-home contest scoring solo scores over the first two frames for the 2-0 margin.
Sophomore Jake Ryan (Whitnsville, MA) scampered home on a fielding error by the second baseman in the first before senior Nick Gikas (Danvers, MA) scored on an RBI single with two men down by classmate Zach George (Attleboro, MA).
The Blue and Gold had bases no outs and the bases loaded in the top of the third, however, senior Ryan Magni (W. Springfield, MA) spun a ground out on a bunt at home before setting down his last two batters to keep the game right where it was.
Magni gave his squad a chance as he matched the effort on the mound for two more scoreless frames with Libuda before running into trouble in the seventh.
After sophomore Brian Bonacquisti (Pittsfield, MA) drove in classmate Mike Powers (Weymouth, MA) with an RBI double in the sixth, the Lancers put up four more tallies in the seventh to take over the 7-0 lead. The inning was highlighted by plated runs from Powers, senior Jeff Bolio (Oxford, MA) and classmate Cody Osburn (Sacramento, CA).
With 100 pitches on the counter entering the top of the ninth, Libuda gave up a single to senior Pierce Hans (Washington Township, NJ) and a run scoring double from senior pinch hitter Dalton Wheeler (Ballston Spa, NY) to break up the shutout.
Following a hit batter and another base-knock by senior Clayton Beaulieu (Chicopee, MA), Libuda turned around and saw a man on every base. But Libuda bore down on the line-up as he fanned the next two batters and completed his MASCAC-best sixth contest of the year with a ground out to second base.
Libuda (5-2) permitted the lone earned run and he issued just two free passes on the day on 125 pitches (74 strikes).
Magni (1-4) went six-plus frames allowing six runs (four earned) on ten hits to go with one walk and two strikeouts.
Ryan and Bolio also helped pace a 12-hit attack while Hans and sophomore Mike St. John (Rehoboth, MA) both chipped in with a pair of base-hits to lead the Falcons at the dish.
With his performance at the plate, Barry now has a base-knock in eight straight games.