Beavers Build Early Lead, Take Game 1 on Gill's Walk-Off Single
BABSON PARK, Mass.—Senior Connor Gill (Sterling, Mass.) drove in first-year Thomas Lapham (Charlestown, Mass.) with a one-out single in the bottom of the ninth as No. 7/9 Babson College defeated No. 19/20 SUNY Cortland, 7-6, in game one of the NCAA Tournament Super Regionals on Friday afternoon at Govoni Field.
With the win, Babson improves to 37-8 overall and is just one victory away from the College World Series for the second year in a row. Cortland, which lost for just the fourth time in its last 31 games, slips to 34-12-1 on the year.
Junior Matthew Valente (Wyckoff, N.J.) went 1-2 with a double, two walks and three RBI, and senior Edward Lehr (Byram Township, N.J.) and junior Jake Oliger (Newtown, Conn.) each drove in a run for the Beavers. Sophomore Tyler Bell (Abington, Mass.) settled for a no-decision after allowing four runs on five hits in 5.1 innings, while senior Max Tannenbaum (Coral Springs, Fla.) improved to 5-1 with the win.
Senior Marcos Perivolaris (Mattituck, N.Y.) went 3-for-4 with a triple and three runs scored, and first-year Mat Bruno (Rye, N.H.) was 3-for-4 with an RBI to pace the Red Dragons' 11-hit attack. Senior Matt Valin (LaFargeville, N.Y.), who entered the game 9-0 with a 1.86 ERA, allowed five runs on three hits while striking out seven and walking seven in a six-inning no-decision. Classmate Chris Puzakulics (Vestal, N.Y.) dropped to 1-1 with the loss after recording just one out in the bottom of the ninth.
Senior Brian McHale (Ramsey, N.J.) led off the bottom of the first with a single, and the Green and White followed a fly out by Gill by taking advantage of four straight walks to build a 2-0 lead. Valente then came through with the big blow of the inning, a bases-clearing double down the right field line to extended the margin to 5-0.
Bell, who retired the first 14 batters he faced before giving up a two-out base hit to Bruno in the fifth, ran into trouble in the sixth. Perivolaris reached on an infield single to start the frame and scored Cortland's first run on an RBI knock to right by junior Scott Giordano (Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.). Giordano scored two batters later on a balk, and senior Dan Schweitzer (Poughquag, N.Y.) followed with another RBI single to cut the deficit to 5-3.
Bruno drove in Schweitzer with a two-out single to left to get within a run, and the Red Dragons pulled even an inning later as Perivolaris again led off with a base hit and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by junior Danny Coleman (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) before coming around to make it 5-5 on classmate Colin BeVard's (Syracuse, N.Y.) two-out single to right center. The Beavers regained a 6-5 edge in the bottom of the seventh though, as Gill walked with one out and later stole second before racing home on Oliger's single through the left side two batters later.
Cortland pulled even again in the top of the ninth as Perivolaris scored on a passed ball after leading off with a triple to right center. BeVard, representing the go-ahead run, got to third following a two-out single only to be stranded there after Babson senior Nicholas Browne (Mount Laurel, N.J.) made a diving catch in shallow left center to end the frame.
Lapham worked a six-pitch walk to lead-off the bottom of the inning, and got to second on McHale's sacrifice bunt before scoring on Gill's single to left center.
Game two of the best-of-three series will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Govoni Field. Should Cortland win, a decisive game three will follow with the winner advancing to the College World Series.
• Friday's meeting was the first since 1986 between Babson and Cortland, and the all-time series is now tied at 2-2.
• McHale's first-inning single was the 199th hit of his career leaving him just two behind the all-time record of 201 set by Jack Halpin '17.
• The Beavers' five runs in the first inning are the most in their first at-bat of the game since scoring eight times against Edgewood back on March 18.
• Friday's victory was the fourth walk-off win of the season for Babson, which improved to 8-0 this spring and 14-3 over the last two years in one-run games.
• Gill has driven in 14 runs and scored 12 times in 13 career NCAA Tournament starts.
• Babson is 38-5 at Govoni Field going back to April 22, 2017.