Arena Sets Single-Season HR Record as Beavers Use Longball to Bounce Lyons
BABSON PARK, Mass.—Juniors Mark Webber (Norwell, Mass.) and Ryan Arena (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) combined to hit five of Babson College's seven home runs as the Beavers completed a sweep of their New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament semifinal series against Wheaton College on Saturday afternoon at Govoni Field. Second-seeded Babson, which is 11th in the NCAA regional rankings, took the opener 6-4 and followed it up with a 10-2 victory over the third-seeded Lyons in game two.
Babson, which has won eight straight games, improves to 21-13 overall and advances to the conference tournament finals for the second year in a row. Wheaton (22-13), which is second in the NCAA regional rankings, has dropped five consecutive games.
Arena, Webber and senior Jack Halpin (Glastonbury, Conn.) all homered, and the Green and White took the lead for good with a five-run fifth inning. Halpin went 2-for-4 with three RBI, Webber drove in a pair of runs and sophomore Eric Jaun (Loveland, Ohio) added two hits and a run scored in the win.
Senior Josh LaJoie (Somers, Conn.) went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI, and sophomore Jared Sharkey (West Bridgewater, Mass.) added a pair of hits for the Lyons.
Arena led off the second with a homer to center, but Wheaton tied the game on a wild pitch in the third and then went in front 2-1 on LaJoie's RBI groundout in the fourth. Jaun led off the fifth with a double to the gap in left center and Webber ripped a two-run blast down the right field line to put Babson back ahead 3-2.
Lyons' junior Brady Furdon (Natick, Mass.) got the first out of the inning with a pop up, but then hit sophomore Connor Gill (Sterling, Mass.) and walked senior Jake Weiss (Irvine, Calif.) before Halpin drilled a three-run homer to extended the Beavers' margin to 6-2. LaJoie cut the Wheaton deficit to 6-3 with an RBI double in the sixth and pulled within two on senior Zach Goodwin-Boyd's (Florence, Mass.) single in the ninth, but left the bases loaded to end the game.
Junior Teddy Carey (Upton, Mass.) allowed three runs on seven hits over 6.0 innings to move to 5-3 on the year with the win. Senior Ken Rotunno (East Islip, N.Y.) tossed two shutout innings of relief and junior Matt Cuneo (Ashland, Mass.) worked out of danger in the ninth to record his seventh save of the year.
Furdon (4-2) gave up six earned runs on eight hits over 6.2 innings for the Lyons, who stranded nine runners over the first six innings and 12 in the game.
Webber homered twice and finished 3-for-4 with four RBI, while Arena's second dinger of the afternoon and 10th of the year set a new single-season program record for the Green and White. Senior Owen Shea (Northborough, Mass.) also homered, Halpin went 2-for-5 with a double and two RBI, and sophomore Michael Genaro (Greenwich, Conn.) needed just 101 pitches to record his third complete game of the year on the mound.
LaJoie went 2-for-4, while Goodwin-Boyd and sophomore Tyler Walsh (Cumberland, R.I.) both hit solo homers for Wheaton. Junior Dan Southerland (Dartmouth, Mass.) got chased after giving up five runs on seven hits in 4.1 innings and dropped to 3-2 on the season with the loss.
Babson tied the game when Jaun slid under Southerland's tag at the plate following an error to pull even at 2-2 in the fourth, and then broke the game open with a seven-run fifth inning. Halpin put the hosts in front 3-2 with an RBI double and Arena followed with a two-run shot to dead center to make it 5-2. Webber smashed his second home run of the day, a three-run shot down the right field line to extended the lead to 8-2, and Shea followed with an opposite-field blast to right center for a 9-2 edge.
Webber added to the lead to start the seventh when he ripped his third home run of the day, this time to center field, to push the margin to 10-2.
Genaro (5-1), who recorded a career-high seven strikeouts, retired 10 in a row after giving up back-to-back solo shots in the second and didn't allow a base runner past second the rest of the game.
Babson returns to action on Monday when it hosts Western New England at 3:30 p.m., while Wheaton visits UMass Dartmouth on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.
• The Beavers improved to 4-1 this season against Wheaton and 7-10 all-time against the Lyons in the postseason.
• Halpin (10 games), Webber (8) and Arena (7) all extended their hitting streaks on Saturday. Arena also has reached base in 24 straight contests.
• Cuneo, who become the program's all-time saves leader on Monday, now owns the single-season record with seven saves this spring.
• Babson last reached the conference tournament finals in back-to-back season as a member of the Constitution Athletic Conference (CAC) in 1996 and 1997.