Baseball beats Clark, improves conference chances

After tossing a complete game shutout against Springfield College in his last outing, there was very little that Torre M. Swanson ’12 could have done against the Clark University Cougars on Saturday to improve upon his prior performance. Yet he did just that, allowing only a bunt single in seven innings to help the Engineers capture the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader en route to a sweep of the three-game weekend series.

After an offensive outburst of four home runs helped MIT take Friday night’s game against Clark, the Engineers returned to Cambridge for a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon. In the first game, MIT seized a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Sean P. Karson ’14 came across the plate. Swanson held the Cougars hitless through four innings, stranding three baserunners who reached on errors. With two outs and the bases empty in the fifth inning, the Cougars’ Daniel Lima laid a hard bunt down along the first base line, eluding an attempted tag from first baseman Ricardo J. Perez ’13 to earn the Cougars’ only hit of the game. After Swanson got out of the fifth, the Engineers extended their lead to 3-0 in the bottom half of the inning. Swanson cruised through the final two innings, and the Engineers tacked on an insurance run in the sixth, earning a 4-0 win in the seven-inning contest.

In the second game of the doubleheader, Christopher M. Hendrix ’12 turned in another spectacular performance, allowing two hits and one earned run over seven innings. The Engineers’ offense had no trouble providing the necessary run support for Hendrix. Led by three-hit games from Karson and A.J. Hansborough ’12, the Engineers took advantage of nine walks issued and five errors from the Cougars as they won 16-2.

While MIT was busy taking care of Clark at home on Saturday, everything was falling into place for the Engineers in their efforts to make the NEWMAC conference tournament. MIT began the weekend five games behind WPI in the conference standings, but WPI was swept by the conference-leading Wheaton Lyons. Consequently, MIT trails WPI by two games headed into their head-to-head matchup in the final weekend of the NEWMAC regular season. MIT will head to Worcester on Friday night before hosting WPI for a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon, needing to take all three games of the series in order to earn a spot in the tournament. While the teams have been on opposite trajectories over the past week, WPI has had a strong season after missing out on the conference tournament last year. Still, with the offensive spark and strong pitching that they showed against Clark, the Engineers might complete a comeback that seemed improbable just two weeks ago.