NORTHBORO, Mass. - Sunday's doubleheader looked poised to be swept by the Becker Hawks, but late-game heroics by the Nighthawks capped off by a walk-off home run by senior David Center (Medford, Mass.) forced the split of the two-game series on Sunday night.
Game One: Becker 7 - Newbury 2
All nine Becker College Hawks finished the game with at least one hit as they defeated the Newbury Nighthawks in game one of the two-game set with a 7-2 win.
Hawks senior Michael Bianco (Manorville, N.Y.) batted 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs. Sophomore Noah Rivera (New Bedford, Mass.) also went 2-for-4, including two doubles and two runs scored. Junior Michael McMahon (Canton, Mass.) finished 2-for-5, both doubles.
Nighthawks sophomore Chris Paulino (Wilton, Conn.) went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles. Senior David Center (Medford, Mass.) and sophomore Dylan Presby (China, Maine) both batted 1-for-3, each hitting a solo home run. For Presby, it's his first career home run.
After a scoreless two innings, Becker drew first blood in the top of the third. An RBI single by senior Evan Barrera (West Warwick, R.I.) gave Becker a 1-0 lead. The Hawks doubled the lead later in the inning on a fielder's choice for a 2-0 lead.
Presby's first career home run, a solo shot to right field cut the Nighthawks deficit to 2-1 after three innings.
Sophomore William Negron (Bronx, N.Y.) gave the Hawks a 4-1 lead with a two-run home run to left-center field in the fifth.
Center got the Nighthawks within two runs on a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth, as the Nighthawks trailed 4-2.
However, in the top of the seventh, Bianco added plenty of insurance for Becker with a three-run home run to straight-away center field, giving the Hawks a 7-2 lead.
Game Two: Newbury 5 - Becker 4
Trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh, Nighthawks senior David Center sent the Nighthawks fans home happy with a walk-off, two-run home run to left-center field, forcing a split of the doubleheader and giving the Nighthawks a 5-4 win in game two.
Center's two-run home run is the fourth of the season for him, giving him 10 career home runs and tying him with Matthew Sobray '18 for the most home runs in a career in program history. Center and junior Dante Serino (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) both finished 2-for-3.
Hawks junior Michael McMahon and sophomore Kevin Santiago (New Bedford, Mass.) both went 1-for-2. McMahon added two runs scored.
The seventh inning began with sophomore Dylan Presby running out an infield single, putting the tying run on base. On a 2-0 count, Center got a fastball and made no mistake, hitting an almost no-doubter home run over the left-center field wall for the walk-off victory.
"He threw me two curveballs in the dirt to start the at-bat," said Center. "From that point on, I was only swinging fastball. Threw it right in the middle, good pitch to hit."
The Nighthawks trailed 4-0 entering the bottom of the sixth, having only managed two hits up to that point. But in the sixth, the Nighthawks loaded the bases with the first three batters and broke up the shutout on an RBI single by junior Brett Cabral (Plymouth, Mass.).
Junior Nick Dorazio (Oxford, Conn.) provided a sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to 4-2. An error would provide another run for the Nighthawks, capping the scoring in the bottom of the sixth for Newbury, who trailed 4-3.
The comeback was almost thrown off track with Becker nearly piecing together a high-scoring top of the seventh inning.
The Becker seventh began with a single by Santiago and a ground-rule double by McMahon. Following a Becker groundout and pop out to the shortstop, Noah Rivera nearly cleared the bases with a three-run shot, but his flyout to center only had warning track power as the Nighthawks escaped the jam.
Hits were hard to come by for both team in the second game of the doubleheader, but that didn't stop the Hawks from taking a 3-0 lead in the early going on a two-run double by Santiago and sacrifice fly by Rivera. A Nighthawks error in the fifth would increase Becker's lead to 4-0.
"We've been a late scoring team all season and today we never gave up," said Center. "We are just trying to get better every day and make a push for the playoffs and hopefully a run for the title."
The split of the doubleheader moves the Nighthawks to 5-13 (2-4 NECC) while the Hawks move to 9-14 (3-3 NECC).
Newbury has a quick turnaround, returning to play tomorrow afternoon, hosting Fitchburg State at 2:00 p.m. at the New England Baseball Complex. Becker returns on Tuesday, traveling to Lasell College for a 7:00 p.m. first pitch.