Purple Knights lose fourth one-run game during pair of setbacks in Florida

LANTANA, Fla. - The Saint Michael's College baseball team suffering its fourth one-run loss of the season on Friday, 6-5 in 11 innings to regionally-ranked Hillsdale (Mich.) College, before dropping a 6-0 contest against American International College. Now 3-5, the Purple Knights were competing in the Palm Beach Challenge at the Santaluces Sports Complex. Saint Michael's is receiving votes toward the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association's (NCBWA) East Region poll.

Against Hillsdale, which is eighth in the D2baseballnews.com Midwest Region rankings, the Purple Knights scored three runs in the ninth to force extra innings. Sophomore George Buteau (Burlington, Vt./Trinity-Pawling School) was 3-for-5 with two RBIs, first-year Connor Steckel (Winchester, Mass./Bridgton Academy) was 2-for-4, and junior Nick Nelson (Spofford, N.H./Keene) walked three times. Sophomore Barry Maily (Moosup, Conn./Plainfield) fanned five over four innings of relief, yielding just three hits and the winning run.

First-year Chris McDonald (Livonia, Mich./Stevenson) was 2-for-5 with two runs and a walk-off home run in the 11th for Hillsdale, while sophomore Vinny Delicata (Sterling Heights, Mich./Parkway Christian) added two hits. Two players had two RBIs, and sophomore Dan Pochmara (Farmington, Mich./Farmington) earned the win in relief, allowing one hit in three scoreless innings.

The Chargers took a 5-0 lead thanks to two runs in the third and three more in the fourth before the Purple Knights, who had two hits in the first five innings combined, plated two runs on three hits in the sixth. Junior Alec Tice (Chelmsford, Mass./Chelmsford) ripped a two-out RBI double before Buteau followed with a run-scoring knock. In the ninth, Buteau hit an RBI double, Steckel added a run-scoring single, and sophomore Don McGuirl's (Warwick, R.I./Saint Sebastian's School) groundout plated the tying run. However, after Hillsdale was held to just three singles in the preceding 6.2 frames, McDonald led off the bottom of the 11th with the winning home run.

In the nightcap, Steckel and senior Jacob Begnoche (Essex Junction, Vt./Essex) each had a hit and walked, while Tice drew a pair of free passes. Junior Nick Myers (Canton, Conn./The Master's School) struck out six over 3.1 innings but took the loss, and first-year Byron Brocar (Bradford, Vt./Oxbow) followed up with 3.2 frames of two-hit, shutout ball during his college debut.

First-year Derek Azzopardi (Redwood City, Calif./Woodside) fired eight shutout innings for the Yellowjackets, striking out six and yielding four hits. Junior Cam MacDonald (Weymouth, Mass./Weymouth) scored three times, and two players drove in two runs apiece.

Five Purple Knights reached in the opening two innings, but American International headed into the third up 4-0. After a bases-loaded walk in the first, three more runs came home with two down in the second. After two more Yellowjackets came around in the fourth, only two Purple Knights reached scored position during the remainder of the contest, including when Begnoche singled and stole second in the ninth inning.

Saint Michael's takes on Palm Beach Atlantic (Fla.) University, which is ranked 10th in the NCBWA's South Region poll, tomorrow at 12:30 p.m.