FT. MYERS, Fla. - First one was close; second not so close, then close, then not so close again. Salve Regina University baseball (2-3) earned its first two victories of 2012 with a sweep of Lasell College, 7-6 (in eight innings) and 15-8, during a twinbill at the Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic.
Both Seahawks and Lasers traded leads multiple times in first game. Lasell reached home first off Seahawk starter Kyle Pheland (No. Scituate, R.I.) with an RBI double by first baseman Kevin Post in the 2nd inning.
Salve Regina responded in its second inning with a two-run blast by sophomore catcher Dominic Di Sano (Central Falls, R.I.) which brought in sophomore outfielder Nicholas Dell'Anno (Reading, Mass.) who had doubled to lead off the frame. The first collegiate homerun for Di Sano gave the Seahawks a 2-1 lead.
Post delivered an unearned run for Lasell in the 3rd with an RBI single. Pheland's mound counterpart, Josh Sullivan, put the Lasers up 4-2 with a two-run homer in the top of the 5th.
Salve Regina trimmed the deficit to 4-3 in its 5th inning. Shortstop Daniel Donohue (Westbury, N.Y.) lifted a sacrifice fly to left field to plate sophomore Anthony Conte (Georgetown, Mass.) who had pinch run for Sean Becker (Richmond, Va.) after the freshman infielder was hit by a pitch.
Sophomore outfielder Tyler Colby (Easton, Mass.), 3-for-4 in the first game, led off the Seahawk 6th with an opposite-field single and reached second on an error by the Laser rightfielder. After Colby advanced to third on a wild pitch, Dell'Anno and Di Sano both earned walks to load the bases. Stephen Crawford (Barrington, R.I.) now faced a new Lasell pitcher, right-hander AJ McKenzie, and worked the count in his favor for an RBI base on balls, tying the score at 4-4.
Nicholas Gaj (Pawtucket, R.I.) and Conte both delivered runs with sacrifice flies to right field. Pheland took the mound in the top of the 7th and retired the first batter on a pop to Donohue at short. The next two Lasers reached with a single and hit by pitch, respectively, before Pheland gave way to reliever Daniel Kehew (Portsmouth, R.I.).
Lasell (0-4) tied the game on consecutive basehits from Bobby Stachura and Conor Cavanaugh. David Long came in from right field for Lasell to pitch the 7th and allowed only a single to Colby.
The first two Lasell batters reached base in the top of the 8th before Kehew struck out the next two Lasers and ended the frame with a fielder's choice grounder to Conte at second.
Senior Byron Reding (Darien, Conn.) singled in the Seahawk 8th after one out, and advanced to second on a ground out. Conte stroked a single to end the game, his second walk-off RBI in Florida in two seasons, making Kehew the winner in relief.
In Game Two, Salve Regina built a 9-0 lead to support first-year lefty starter Jonathan Atkins (Greenfield, Mass.). Senior captain Matt Capone (East Providence, R.I.) singled in Donohue in the 1st inning after the shortstop reached on a one-out double. Capone came around to score on a Dell'Anno sacrifice fly.
Dell'Anno doubled in Capone in the top of the 3rd before freshman DH Matt Conroy (Philadelphia, Pa.) singled in Dell'Anno and Joe Haley (North Kingstown, R.I.) for a 5-0 lead. Haley enjoyed his second consecutive 4-for-4 day at the plate, raising his season average to .750 (9-for-12).
Salve Regina plated four more runs in the 4th. Senior Nicholas Politelli (Warwick, R.I.) singled in Conte and then Politelli and Haley came in on Reding's double. Dell'Anno delivered Reding and the rout was on. But the Lasers had something to say.
After Atkins fed the opposing batters a steady diet of off-speed pitches to keep the Lasers off balance and scoreless through four innings, Lasell scored eight unearned runs all with two outs in the 5th.
A leadoff walk was followed by a grounder back to Atkins and a fly out to Dell'Anno in right. Cavanaugh reached on an error which opened the door for Lasell. Dan Mickens and Chris Williams both drove in two runs apiece with basehits in the frame. Senior lefty Laurence Liggett (Manasquan, N.J.) ended the frame on the mound for Salve Regina and induced a fielder's choice ground out to preserve a 9-8 lead for the Seahawks.
In the Seahawk 6th, Capone drove in Donohue for the 10th run and advanced to third on a Haley single before scoring on a passed ball. Dell'Anno scored Haley with a sacrifice fly.
Salve Regina added three more runs in its final at bat. Politelli doubled in Conte and Salvatore Cumella (Ridgefield, N.J.), pinch-running for Conroy. Politelli later scored on a wild pitch.
Matthew Croteau (Cheshire, Conn.) followed up Liggett's scoreless 6th with a scoreless 7th and Salve Regina had the sweep in its first-ever meeting with Lasell on the baseball diamond. The Seahawks are off Tuesday before facing Olivet College in a single game Wednesday (10 a.m.). The Comets face former Commonwealth Coast Conference member New England College tomorrow.