WESTFIELD, Mass. – Second-seeded Fitchburg State erupted for 12 runs in the first three innings to stake themselves to a 10-run lead, then held on as top-seed Westfield State staged a furious rally late as the Falcons won 13-10 in the championship round of the MASCAC tournament at Bud and Jim Hagan Field.
With the tournament's double-elimination format, the Falcons force the if-necessary championship game on Sunday, with the winner earning the league title and the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
The Falcons struck for five runs in the first, as the first three hitters of the game walked to chase Owls' starter Patrick Jordan. Vinny Eramo's two-run double was the big blow of the inning, and Matt Pingitore added a two-run single.
Fitchburg tacked on seven more runs in the third, Nick Cordeau delivered a two-run single, and Brennan Cuddahy a three run double that gave the Falcons a 12-2 lead.
Westfield battled back with four runs in the sixth, as Fitchburg starter Adam Somers tired and hit three batters in the inning to set the table for Westfield. Colin Dunn drove in two with a single, and Brett Dooley added a pop fly double over shortstop that plated two more. Dooley finished 5-6 on the day for the Owls.
Trailing 13-6 entering the ninth, Westfeld struck for four more runs, loading the bases on two walks and hit batsman. Aaron Clancy drove in a pair of runs with a base hit, and Dooley added another RBI single, advanced from first to third on a passed ball, before the Owls threat finally ended with a groundout to end the game.
Macomber and Eramo each finished 3-5 with a pair of RBI for the Falcons. Dunn and Clancy each rapped out three hits for the Owls.
Somers (2-2) delivered a gritty performance in the win, working 5.1 innings, allowing eight hits and six walks to go with six runs, but delivered the length the Falcons needed on day three of the tournament.
Jordan (2-3) took the loss for the Owls. Westfield got solid relief work from freshman Ryan Murphy, who stemmed the tide for 4.1 innings, allowing just one run on four hits to give the Owls the chance to rally late.
Tomorrow's winner-take-all championship game will start at 12 noon at Westfield's Bud and Jim Hagan field.