North Atlantic Conference play and a successful home opener occurred on Saturday for New England College. With a pair of wins, the Pilgrims extended their program record winning streak to 12. With the 7-4 and 6-2 wins, NEC improved their overall record to 13-3(2-0 NAC) while Thomas College fell to 2-13 (0-2 NAC) on the season.
Despite the drastic differences in overall record between the two teams coming into the games, both pitched and defended very well to start the first of two games. As the game remained scoreless through the first three innings, Pilgrims starting pitcher Jamie Carey had faced the minimum amount of batters through three innings. Thomas College pitcher Dominic Esposito was equally impressive early in the game, as he allowed only one hit through the early part of the game.
Thomas College got on the scoreboard first in the top of the fourth inning where they scored two runs on a double by Nicholas Cousins, who was then driven in by Alex Curtis to give Thomas a 3-0 lead. A total of eight batters hit in what would be the best offensive inning from Thomas College all day.
Evan Delaney got things going for the Pilgrims in the bottom of the fourth with a leadoff double, and was later driven in by Jamie Carey to cut the Thomas lead to 3-1. The Pilgrims continued to chip away in the bottom of the fifth when Justin Carey singled with two outs, stole second base and was then driven in on a RBI single by Xander Nunez, which brought the Thomas to one.
With Jamie Carey still pitching well, he recorded a 1-2-3 top of the sixth, which allowed the Pilgrims to get right back to the plate. NEC would explode for five runs in the inning, Joe Paliotte got things started with a double and would be driven in on a single by Manuel Alejandro that tied the game at three. With the game still tied later in the inning, the Pilgrims had the bases loaded when Justin Carey was hit by a pitch that gave NEC a 4-3 lead. The Pilgrims would extend their lead to 7-3 on a wild pitch, error and then a sacrifice fly by Jamie Carey.
Despite Thomas scratching across a single run in the top of the seventh to make the score 7-4, Jamie Carey would then finish a complete game on the mound, earning his third win of the season.
Game two of the day started off similar to the first. Jeam Castillo would start on the mound for the Pilgrims and the game would remain scoreless through the first inning. In the top of the second Thomas College would take a 1-0 lead when Alex Curtis recorded a RBI double.
However the Pilgrims would bounce back in the bottom of the third when Stanley Vargas would reach on a fielder’s choice that would score Justin Carey to tie the game 1-1. However once again pitching would take over the game, Jeam Castillo would keep Thomas College off the scoreboard until the NEC offense could provide him with more run support.
That run support would come in the bottom of the fifth inning when Evan Delaney would drive in Christian Aybar for a 2-1 lead. Xander Nunez would drive in another run on a single to improve the lead to 3-1. Finally, Luis Atiles would cap off the three run inning with a sacrifice fly that gave the Pilgrims a 4-1 lead that they never surrendered.
With the score now at 4-2 with one out in the top of the sixth, Nick Powers would come in to pitch and in dominating fashion would retire each of the five batters he faced to close out what would end up being a 6-2 NEC victory.
The Pilgrims will next play on Tuesday when they host a doubleheader against Castleton University, with the first game scheduled to start at 2pm.