The New England College Pilgrims began play at Laurie Cox Memorial Field on Saturday, when they split a doubleheader with Lesley University. The Pilgrims dropped the home opener by a score of 5-4 and rebounded in the second game with a 10-2 win. The two games were also the first home games in New England Collegiate Conference history for NEC. The Pilgrims improved their record to 15-7 (4-2 NECC) following the games while Lesley moved to 6-13 (4-2 NECC).
NEC got off to a fast start in the first game, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Following a leadoff double by Christian Aybar, RBI singles by Luis Atiles and Xavier Nunez gave the Pilgrims the early advantage. After Lesley responded with a run in the top of the third inning, Connor Morin hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning that allowed Aybar to score his second run of the game and gave them a 3-1 lead.
Stanley Vargas got his sixth start of the season for the Pilgrims and after being given a 3-1 lead would retire 9 of the next 10 batters he faced. Vargas would end up pitching a complete game while striking out five and only allowing six hits. However, three of those hits would come in the top of the 7th inning. The Pilgrims entered the final frame leading 4-2, but would surrender three runs and following a two out, two run double by Vincent Taliercio of Lesley, would fall behind 5-4. After coming close but not being able to respond in the bottom half of the inning, Lesley would take the first of two games.
Joseph Pascucci started the second game for NEC and pitched six strong innings, giving up only two runs and recording six strikeouts. This was Pascucci’s second win of the season. He was provided with plenty of early run support in the bottom of the second inning. Trailing 1-0, the Pilgrims scored seven runs highlighted by RBI hits by Anderson Jimenez, Jamie Carey, Conor Morin, and Xavier Nunez.
Leading 7-2 heading into the bottom of the 5th inning Carey would record his first homerun of the season. The two run homer to left field would give the Pilgrims a very comfortable 9-2 lead. Evan Delaney would finish off the day with his team leading fifth homerun also to left field and the Pilgrims would take the second game 10-2.
NEC will return to action at home on Wednesday, April 10th for a non-conference matchup against Plymouth State University. They will resume NECC play next Saturday on the road for a doubleheader against Dean College before returning home for a conference series against Southern Vermont College next Sunday afternoon.