BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. --- The Thomas College baseball team split its season-opening doubleheader at Massachusetts Maritime Academy on Saturday afternoon at Commodore Hendy Field, falling 5-4 in game one before rebounding for a 4-2 win in game two.
Connor Kennedy's pinch-hit RBI single in the bottom of the seventh plated the winning run as Massachusetts Maritime rallied for the win in the opener. In the nightcap, Thomas sophomore Matt Rutherford (Saco, Maine) tossed a complete-game six-hitter and struck out five to give the Terriers the split of the twinbill.
GAME 1: Massachusetts Maritime 5, Thomas (ME) 4
In game one, the Terriers jumped out to a 3-0 lead after one inning. Senior Anree Benitez (Orlando, Fla.) led off the game with a single to right field and went from first to third on a single by fellow senior Nik Beeson (Manchester, N.H.) before scoring on an RBI double to center by Zach Mathieu (Oakland, Maine). A balk with Alex Curtis (Monmouth, Maine) at bat moved Mathieu to third and scored Beeson to put Thomas up 2-0. Curtis followed with an RBI single to left that scored Mathieu.
Starting pitcher Isiah Fleming (Fairfield, Maine) allowed just two baserunners in the first three innings but got touched for an unearned run in the bottom of the fourth inning as Logan Sullo scored on a double-play grounder. The Buccaneers knotted things up in the fifth as Sullo drove in a pair on a triple to right field.
Thomas regained the 4-3 lead in the sixth when senior Joe Quinlan (Westbrook, Maine) drew a one-out walk and scored all the way from first on a looping single to right center off the bat of Benitez, but the hosts rallied in their final at-bat of the lid-lifter with one out. Greg Downs tied the game at 4-4 with an RBI double, and after Sullo's double advanced pinch-runner Oliver Moore to third, Jake Petruzzelli was intentionally walked to load the bases, setting the stage for Kennedy's game-winning single to center.
Benitez had three of the Terriers' eight hits in the opening contest, while Mathieu and Curtis has two hits apiece to go with Beeson's single in the first inning. Beeson took the loss on the mound after allowing both seventh inning runs. Fleming went the first five innings for Thomas, allowing three runs (two earned) and struck out four in his season debut. Sullo had three hits for Massachusetts Maritime, while Downs collected two hits and Everett Walsh started the seventh inning with a single. Kyle Kennedy picked up the victory in relief for the Buccaneers after striking all four batters he faced. Starter Daniel Avery allowed three runs on seven hits over five innings while striking out eight.
GAME 2: Thomas (ME) 4, Massachusetts Maritime 2
Curtis's two-run infield single in the top of the first of the nightcap staked the Terriers to an early 2-0 advantage, but Massachusetts Maritime sliced that margin in half on just three pitches in the bottom of the frame when Petruzzelli singled and scored on Walsh's double. Thomas answered back in the second on an RBI single off the bat of freshman Isaiah Arana (Orlando, Fla.) to regain a two-run lead, but the Buccaneers got that back in the third on a fielder's choice groundout by Paul Sances.
The visitors closed out the scoring with an insurance run in the sixth after sophomore Michael De Los Santos (Robstown, Tex.) doubled and later scored on a sacrifice fly by sophomore Aron Smestad (Corinna, Maine), and Rutherford took care of the rest on the mound for Thomas, as he overcame five walks to earn the win after Arana ended the game by throwing out a runner at the plate.
Benitez and senior Derek Kane (Natick, Mass.) also doubled as a part of a seven-hit attack in the nightcap triumph for the Terriers, while Walsh collected three of Massachusetts Maritime's six second game hits, two of which went for doubles. Justin Nichols suffered the setback on the mound for the Buccaneers, as he allowed two hits and walked two in the opening inning of action to fall to 0-1 on the season.
Massachusetts Maritime takes on Emerson in a non-league outing on Sunday afternoon at Campanelli Stadium in Brockton, Mass. beginning at 2 p.m., while Thomas heads to Providence, R.I. on Sunday afternoon for a non-league doubleheader with Johnson & Wales that begins at noon.