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Westfield State Baseball Wins MASCAC Crown

Westfield State Baseball Wins MASCAC Crown
WESTFIELD, Mass. -- Tournament MVP John Gegetskas (Windsor, Conn.) slammed the door for Westfield State University on a 7-5 win over Framingham State University in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference baseball championship game at Hagan Field on Monday afternoon.

Westfield, 24-16-1, is crowned the conference champion and earns the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The Owls battled back throughout the game, getting the game winning run in the top of the eighth inning as All-New England outfielder Anthony Crowley (Bellingham, Mass.) tripled with two outs to the deepest part of the park in center field against a Rams defense that was aligned in a four-outfielder set while foregoing a second baseman.
Anthony Crowley celebrates
his triple which started the
game-winning rally.

Sophomore designated hitter Jake Gibb (Stoughton, Mass.) followed with a solid single to give the Owls a 6-5 lead.

"I just put everything in the past behind," said Crowley, who had struck out twice and chopped to the pitcher in the three at bats before the triple. "I can't think about my previous at bats because they clearly weren't that great and focus on that at bat. Biggest thing is to not battle yourself right there and move forward."

"He's come up with big hits all year," said WSU coach Nathan Bashaw of Crowley's triple He had a couple tough Ab's where he had some RBI opportunities and couldn't put the ball in play , the kid battles and he's level headed and he know he would get another shot. There's a reason he's an all new England player."

"I'm happy it turned out," said Gibb. "I had Crowley on third and he had a great AB before and set it up."

"[Rams pitcher Kevin Connelly, the reigning MASCAC Pitcher of the Year] beat me before, I thought he was going back with the curveball and he gave me a fastball," said Gibb. "I swung as hard as I could and probably closed my eyes and drove it up the middle."

Gegetskas, the Owls' number-one starter throughout the season, came out of the pen in the bottom of the eighth and retired the final six batters, three by strikeout, and induced a groundout from Rams' designated hitter Cameron Borrelli, and the Owls celebration was on.
Tournament MVP John
Gegetskas receives the MVP award
from league commisioner
Angela Baumann.
"Once you have Johnny to work the last two it essentially makes it a seven inning game," said Bashaw. "Offensively it takes the pressure off, but guys were stepping up on short rest when we needed it most."

"I knew I yesterday I would be used in the eighth and ninth," said Gegetskas who said he felt fine on two days rest and was working with a lot of adrenaline. "But I just wanted to go out there and throw strikes, throw the ball as hard as I could and get some outs."

Junior lefthander Scott Strachan (5-3) (Braintree, Mass.) earned the win out of the bullpen, working just 2/3 of an inning and getting a 6-4-3 double play ground ball from the Rams' slugging catcher, Jordan Pallazola.

"That double play ball snuffs out a potential big inning for them and gives us a chance," said Bashaw.

Westfield State head coach Nathan Bashaw successfully wove together nine innings on the mound with five pitchers, with innings in great demand on the fifth day of the tournament. Freshman Vincenzo Camera (East Haven, Conn.) started, giving way to seniors Nate Barnes (Westfield, Mass.) and Nate Marshall (Winsted, Conn.) before Strachan and Gegetskas won the day.

"We started under the premise that Johnny could give us two innings and we worked backwards from there," said Bashaw. "We had a couple options for the start and decided to go with Camera who has been solid all year. And Barnes came up to us today and told us he could give us a couple of innings, and he's a senior that can throw strikes and get some outs for us. From there we went to Marshall who's a senior captain, and then Strach has been phenomenal down the stretch."

Westfield took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, as senior left fielder John Lippincott (Barkhamsted, Conn.) led off the game with a walk, and worked his way around to score on Gibb's first hit of the day.

Framingham took the lead with two runs off Camera in the second, with Matthew Brockett driving in one with a fielder's choice and Aaron Williams plating another with a solid single.

Westfield tied the game at two as Lippincott led off the top of the third inning with a base hit, stole second and scored on another Gibb single.

The Owls added two runs in the fourth, as Kyle Murphy (Westfield, Mass.) reached on a hit by pitch. Tyler Beach singled and Lippincott pulled a double down the right field line to score Murphy, and Brett Dooley's (Cohasset, Mass.) sac fly scored Beach.

Framingham grabbed a 5-4 lead in the fourth, as Borrelli laced a bases-loaded single through the right side that scored Joe Ambrosino and Anthony Venuti. Kyle Pileski followed with a deep sacrifice fly to center field to score Williams.

The determined Owls tied the game at 5-5 in the fifth as Beach's sac fly scored Colin Dunn (Westfield, Mass.) to tie the game.

Westfield got an insurance run in the ninth as Lippincott reached on an error and scored on Alex Lafayette's (Ludlow, Mass.) base hit.

Framingham senior right hander Connelly took the loss for the Rams in relief. Chris Riga, a Westfield native started and worked the first five innings, allowing five runs. Williams was the only repeat hitter for the Rams with a pair of hits. Joe Ambrosino scored two runs for the Rams. Framingham ends its season at 21-19.

Gibb finished 3-5 with three RBI.

"Jake Gibb is a machine," said Bashaw. "Jake has vied for more time in the catcher role the last three weeks, but he's been battling injuries, and the last 3-4 days he has had phenomenal batting practice, and we have a lot of options for that DH spot but he just took the job, … he's driving baseballs and squaring everything up and become a run producer for us."

Lippincott finished with three runs and two hits, and Crowley and Lafayette each added two hits for the Owls.

Westfield wins its first MASCAC tournament title since 2009, and will make the 10th NCAA tournament appearance in school history and the first since 2010.

"It's incredible, said Crowley. "We have always had the talent to do so and it It's about time we finally did it, and I am excited for everybody."
Westfield earned some vindication from 2017, when they entered as the top seed, but were eliminated in two games.

"It's just great to win, honestly," said Gegetskas. "We got close last year and we missed but getting it this year is just awesome. I'm just hoping to win more games and keep this team together a little longer."

Westfield has put together a strong late-season run, winning 11 of 14 games after sitting at 13-13-1 at midseason. The Owls played a tough early season that included six teams that have been regionally or nationally ranked and have had numerous key players battle with injuries throughout the season.

"It's amazing," said Gibb. "This team has gone through a lot this season and had a lot of ups and downs. We are well deserving of this championship in the MASCAC. The MASCAC is a good league, and we put some bats on balls and made some plays and coming out with the "W" is awesome."

Scott Strachan earned the win for the Owls.