Thomas Baseball Swept by Johnson & Wales

Thomas Baseball Swept by Johnson & Wales

PROVIDENCE, R.I. --- The Thomas College baseball team fell to 1-3 overall after dropping both halves of a doubleheader to Johnson & Wales University at SMG Athletic Complex.

The Wildcats had one big inning in each game, scoring four runs in the fifth inning en route to a 4-1 win in game one, then scored three second-inning runs in a 3-0 victory in game two.

Game 1: Johnson & Wales 4, Thomas 1
In game one, Thomas was able to get a runner on base in each of the first two frames, but was unable to push anyone across. Johnson & Wales mounted its first serious threat in the bottom of the third, but couldn't capitalize on a pair of Terrier errors.

Thomas broke through in the fifth inning. With two down, JWU pitcher Keith Grant issued back-to-back free passes to freshman Hank Vinall (Blue Hill, Maine) and sophomore Aron Smestad (Corinna, Maine). Senior Anree Benitez (Orlando, Fla.) rapped an infield single back to third to load the bases before Grant pegged freshman Isaiah Arana (Orlando, Fla.) with a pitch to force Vinall in from third for the first run of the game. 

Johnson & Wales answered in the bottom half of the frame as Greg Joubert led off the inning with a triple down the right field line and scored on a Chris Baldwin RBI single throught the left side.
After stealing second and advancing to third on a wild pitch, Baldwin scored on a single down the right field line by Tom Elkow. Leadoff hitter Rob Ballinger, who reached on a hit by pitch, moved to third on the play and raced home on a wild pitch by Thomas starter Derek Kane (sr., Natick, Mass.). Frank D'Amato poked a single through the right side of the infield, scoring Elkow from second to give JWU a 4-1 lead.

Grant set the Terriers down in order in the sixth and allowed just one baserunner in the seventh to lock up the victory. He finished with a complete game two-hitter, allowing one run while walking three and striking out six.

Kane took the loss for Thomas, allowing four earned runs on five hits and a walk while striking out five in 4 1/3 innings. Freshman Jon Phelps (Southwest Harbor, Maine) pitched 1 2/3 innings of two-hit relief.

Benitez and fellow senior Nik Beeson (Manchester, N.H.) accounted for Thomas' two hits, while JWU right fielder Carlos Sanabria had a pair of hits, including a double. 

Game 2: Johnson & Wales 3, Thomas 0
The Terriers threatened to grab an early lead in game two as the first four batters of the game reached base. Leadoff hitter Anree Benitez hit an infield single to lead off the inning, only to be picked off at second base. Derek Kane followed by drawing a walk and moved around to third on a Nik Beeson single to right center and a Zach Mathieu (Oakland, Maine) walk.

All three runners ended up stranded, however, after sophomore Rob Harris (Flushing, Mich.) struck out and Jonathan Phelps grounded out to third to end the frame.

JWU scored three runs in the bottom of the second as the Wildcats loaded the bases with three straight singles to open the inning. A wild pitch by Dom Esposito brought in Andrew Hunton for the first run, then Mark Kerwin rapped a two-RBI single to drive in Jordan Pilarski and Dave Matthews.

Thomas mounted another charge in the fourth as Harris and Phelps opened the inning with singles. JWU starter Brandon Rainville recovered, though, striking out the next three batters to get out of the jam.

Benitez led off the Terriers' half of the fifth with a single up the middle. He stole second before moving over to third when the Wildcats turned a double play behind him but was stranded as Mathieu flew out to right field for the third out.

Thomas had one final chance to get on the board in the seventh as Connor Hope (Willimantic, Conn.) drew a pinch-hit leadoff walk. After Benitez struck out for the first out of the inning, Hope and Kane were erased on consecutive fielder's choices to end the game.

Esposito took the loss for the Terriers, throwing a complete game. He allowed three earned runs on seven hits and a pair of walks while striking out three.

Rainville pitched six scoreless innings, scattering six hits and three walks while striking out eight. Brandon Cesino grabbed the save after pitching a scoreless seventh inning.

Thomas returns to the diamond on Wednesday when it kicks off its spring trip with a doubleheader against Loras (Iowa) at Auburndale, Fla.