Pair of Comebacks Put Nighthawks in Championship Game

Photo Credit: Dylan Foran
Photo Credit: Dylan Foran

BOSTON, Mass. - The Newbury Nighthawks needed a pair of comebacks to stay alive in the New England Collegiate Conference Championships, while the Lesley University Lynx rolled to the final's in the winner's bracket on Saturday afternoon at Sweeney Field at Wentworth.

Game Seven: Newbury 12 - Regis (Mass.) 8

Trailing by three and with two outs remaining in their season, eight straight Nighthawks reached base safely, as Newbury put up seven runs in the seventh, rescuing their season in a 12-8 victory over the Regis College Pride on Saturday afternoon in the first elimination game of the afternoon.

Nighthawks sophomore Noelle Sass (Randolph, Mass.) and senior Naomi Ricciotti (Pheonix, Ariz.) both finished 3-for-5 with three RBIs. Sophomore Alina Milauskas (Elkridge, Md.) and freshman Mallory Stefan (Thornton, Colo.) also finished 3-for-5.

Pride sophomore Brianna Napoleone (Medford, Mass.) joined the large group of batters that finished 3-for-5. Napoleone also added two RBIs. Freshman Ellery Rasmussen (Kingston, N.H.) batted 2-for-3, while senior Allison Caloggero (Stoneham, Mass.) finished 2-for-4 with a RBI.

Following a groundout to open the seventh, Stefan started the rally with a single to right. A walk and single then loaded the bases for the Nighthawks.

Senior Lindsey Clark (Venice, Fla.) started the scoring with a single, cutting the deficit to 8-6. Milauskas then cashed in, tying the game on a double to right-center field, scoring Tina Babcock (Ayer, Mass.) and Elizabeth Kia (Kea'au, Hawaii).

Sass stepped in and painted the left field line with a double of her own, adding two more runs for a 10-8  Nighthawks lead. Back-to-back singles would score two more Nighthawks for a 12-8 advantage.

The Pride scored in all but the first and seventh inning, including a three-run fourth thanks to a series of errors and singles by senior Kelsey Morton (South Portland, Maine) and Napoleone. At the end of four, the Pride led 6-2, and after five it was 7-2 from a RBI double by Rasmussen.

Milauskas takes credit for the win in a relief appearance, allowing just one run on four hits in three innings.

Pride freshman Madi McLellan (Fremont, N.H.) pitched 6 1/3 while allowing 10 earned on 17 hits.

The 20-hit performance by the Nighthawks was the most this season, just two shy of the program record.

The loss eliminates the Pride, while the Nighthawks wait for either the Lesley Lynx or Bay Path Wildcats.

Game Eight: Lesley 6 - Bay Path 0

Lynx freshman Sarah Bushman (Aurora, Colo.) threw a one-hit shutout for the third time this season, the second while going at least seven innings, shutting down the Bay Path Wildcats in a 6-0 victory, punching the Lynx ticket to the Championship Game.

Lynx senior Mekenzi Golden (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) batted 3-for-5 including a pair of doubles. Bushman helped her cause at the plate, finishing 2-for-4. Sophomores Abby Henderson (Rochester, N.H.) and Jordan Raab (Rochester, N.H.), as well as, senior Carlyn Barker (Temecula, Calif.) all finished with two hits and a RBI.

Sophomore Melissa Sarna-McCarthy (Westhampton, Mass.) was the only Wildcat to gain a hit off Bushman, a well-struck double in the second. 

The Lynx third opened up a major lead for Lesley as they began the inning with a pair of singles. Freshman Ally Murphy (Raynham, Mass.) followed that with a double to right-center, scoring a pair for a 3-0 lead. A Raab sacrifice fly later scored Murphy for a 4-0 lead.

The Lynx added two in the fourth on a Henderson double and Barker single, giving Lesley a 6-0 lead.

Sophomore Katrina Peck (Newington, Conn.) was the only other Wildcat to safely reach base on a walk in the fourth.

Bushman retired the final 10 batters she faced on her way to the one-hit performance.

Sophomore Madison Goodhart (Pawtucket, R.I.) received the start for the Wildcats, going seven innings while allowing five earned on 16 hits.

The Lesley University Lynx improve to 21-16 punching their ticket into the Championship Game. The Lynx are one victory away from representing the NECC in the NCAA Tournament starting on Wednesday.

The Wildcats move to the loser's bracket and prepare for a rematch with the Nighthawks; a replay from Thursday that the Wildcats won 5-4.

Game Nine: Newbury 8 - Bay Path 6

In similar fashion to the first game of the afternoon, the Nighthawks needed a high-scoring inning to take control and in the Newbury third, the Nighthawks exploded for eight runs while holding off the Wildcats offense en route to an 8-6 victory and a spot in the Championship Round. 

Stefan finished 3-for-4 in the elimination game, all singles and a RBI. Sophomore Alexis Vieira (Pawtucket, R.I.) finished 2-for-4 including a double. Eight of the nine starters for the Nighthawks scored in the third; Sass is the only player who failed to score.

Wildcats freshman Lilly West (Goshen, Mass.) finished 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and RBIs. Freshman Kiley Bissell (Goshen, Mass.) knocked in two, despite finishing hitless. Junior Lauren Vallee (Bristol, Conn.) batted 1-for-2 with two runs scored.

Trailing 2-0 entering the third, back-to-back singles put two on to start the inning. Milauskas then doubled to left, scoring Kia. Two batters later, Vieira singled up the middle, tying the game at 2-2.

Following a walk to load the bases, back-to-back singles by freshman Arianna Gooden (Bakersfield, Calif.) and Stefan pushed two more runs across for a 4-2 Nighthawks lead.

A bases loaded walk gave the Nighthawks a 5-2 lead and two batters later, a wild pitch advanced all runners, scoring Ricciotti for a 6-2 lead. A Wildcats error allowed Stefan and Babcock to score, putting the Nighthawks ahead 8-2.

The Wildcats offense went to work in the fourth, starting the rally with the bases loaded and one out. On first, Vallee ran out a ground ball with the throw to second not in time, in the process scoring a pair to trail 8-4.

West doubled down the left field line, scoring Vallee, to cut the deficit to 8-5.

The Wildcats best chance came in the sixth with a lead-off bunt single by Jailinne Ruiz (Hadley, Mass.). The next batter, Vallee flew out and with Ruiz attempting to tag up, it was determined she left early and was out on the double play at first. 

A Bissell walk kept the inning alive and West again doubled, scoring Bissell all the way from first, putting the Wildcats down two, 8-6.

Despite a lead-off double in the seventh by Sarna-McCarthy, the Wildcats couldn't push across two runs as Ruiz was thrown out by Clark on a bunt attempt to end the game.

Milauskas picked up her second win of the day, going 3 2/3 innings while allowing four earned on three hits with six strikeouts.

Wildcats freshman Felicia Gaillardetz (Londonderry, N.H.) went the full seven innings, allowing six earned on 10 hits, striking out three.

The pair of losses moves the Wildcats to 23-17, eliminating them from the NECC Playoffs.

The Nighthawks pair of victories moves them to 22-16, improving on their already established school-record in wins. 

The Nighthawks will need two victories tomorrow in order to represent the NECC in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

The Championship Match, Game 10, is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. tomorrow. Due to conference rules, the Nighthawks will begin the day as the home team. 

Should the Nighthawks win Game 10, the winner-take-all Game 11 will be played approximately 30 minutes following the end of Game 10, with the Lynx being the home side for the scheduled 3:00 p.m. game.