Mansfield, CT --- Western New England junior Jeff Richardson (Simsbury, CT) used 146 pitches to hurl a five-hit shutout for his first career complete game as he helped propel the fifth-seeded Golden Bears to a 4-0 win over #2 St. Joseph's in an elimination contest in the NCAA Division III Baseball Tournament hosted by Eastern Connecticut.
With the triumph Western New England (35-12) will play in tomorrow's 12 PM contest against third-seeded Trinity for the right to play in the championship at 3:30 against top-seed Wheaton.
The Monks finish their season with a school-record win total of 39-7 and have had a 30-win campaign in seven out of the last eight years. They are making their sixth NCAA Division III Tournament appearance.
Western New England staked the early 2-0 advantage with back-to-back RBI singles by junior Tim Clark (W. Springfield, MA) and classmate Taylor Perun (Plainville, CT).
St. Joseph's sophomore Nick Whittaker (Yarmouth, ME) then helped silence the Golden Bear bats over the next four three frames as he retired eight out of the next 11 before he surrendered a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Western New England would score two more times in that frame on a plated run by Clark and an RBI double by senior Mike Taylor (Andover, MA) for the 4-0 edge they would not abandon.
The Monks would get a lift from freshman Tyler Laverriere (Biddeford, ME) who tossed three scoreless frames of two-hit baseball to finish the contest for St. Joseph's.
Richardson used an effective breaking pitch and a strong fastball to work the counts to help his squad stave off elimination. He fanned a career-best nine while he walked just two.
Despite leaving a man on third in both the first and second innings, their best chance to score was in the seventh with the bases loaded after back-to-back singles by sophomore Lincoln Sanborn (Standish, ME) and junior Brandon Chase (Naples, ME) against a tiring Richardson. But he would get out of the jam by retiring the lead-off man on a fly-out.
Going over the century mark in pitches, he got stronger as the game went along and tossed two perfect frames – with three strikeouts – to close out the game.
For Western New England, junior Tim Clark (W. Springfield, MA) was 3-for-3 with a walk, one run scored and two runs driven in while sophomore Nick Ambrosino (Laurel Hollow, NY) added two safeties.
Third-year Matt Anthonis (Guilford, CT) scored a pair of runs with a double as he is now tied for the Mansfield Regional lead in base-knocks with Ambrosino for seven in four contests. The Golden Bears finished with the 10-5 edge in hits.
In four games, St. Joseph's pitching staff impressed with the best earned run average after the third day (1.54) as they also had 37 strikeouts in 35 innings with six earned runs and 10 free passes.
The Monks stranded seven overall, including five in scoring position.
Story by Steven M. Miller, Jr., Worcester State University