SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The Saint Michael's College baseball team played in February for the first time since 2001 on Wednesday, opening its season with a pair of non-league losses to Northeast-10 Conference counterpart American International College, 9-3 and 7-2, during seven-inning affairs at Bedard Field. The contests with the Yellow Jackets, who also began their 2018 campaign, were the earliest the Purple Knights had ever played in New England, besting the 2015 squad by seven days. Ten of their 16 first-years made their college debuts on Wednesday.
Sophomore Connor Hopkins (Windham, N.H./Windham) hit his first career home run, a two-run shot, during the opener while also walking and being hit by a pitch. First-year Danté Moran (Saint Petersburg, Fla./Dixie Hollins) was 2-for-3 with a walk, junior Trevor Allen (Dennis, Mass./Dennis-Yarmouth Regional) finished with a double, an RBI and a walk, while classmate Calvin Holland (Hopkinton, Mass./Hopkinton) also doubled, scored and was hit by a pitch. Graduate student Nick Dorcean (Bellerose, N.Y./Archbishop Molloy/SUNY Old Westbury) made his first appearance since 2016, with Division III State University of New York at Old Westbury, and his first start in three seasons, yielding six earned runs in 2.1 innings while taking the loss. First-year Alex Mendez (Fallon, Nev./Churchill County) allowed one run on three hits in three frames of relief, striking out two.
Redshirt junior Reed Phillips finished 4-for-4 with three runs and five RBIs while ending up a double short of the cycle for AIC. Sophomore Matt Costanza was 2-for-3 with three runs, first-year Anthony Clark batted 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a triple, while redshirt senior Jason Coscio worked five innings, allowing three runs on five hits, to claim the win.
Allen's two-out RBI double plated junior Joe Robertson (Essex Junction, Vt./Essex) in the top of the first inning before Phillips came up with a two-run single in the home half before Clark's two-out RBI knock made it 3-1. Four more Yellow Jackets scored in the third, with Phillips and Clark both legging out run-scoring triples, before Hopkins' two-run drive to left made it 7-3 in the fourth inning. Phillips countered with a two-run dinger of his own in the sixth. The Purple Knights put two in scoring position with one down in the seventh but did not push any further runs across.
First-year Anthony Azpeitia (Tampa, Fla./King) was 2-for-2 with two runs for the visitors in the nightcap, while Moran and Robertson both had run-scoring hits. First-year Zach Rodgers (Parrish, Fla./Manatee) took the loss after allowing three runs on four hits in three innings. Redshirt first-year southpaw Paul Prue (Dennis, Mass./Nauset Regional/Wheaton [Mass.]) debuted by yielding three earned runs in two frames before junior Drew Farris (Andover, Mass./Saint John's Prep) worked a perfect seventh.
Phillips was 2-for-2 with two runs, two RBIs, a walk, a double and a triple, sophomore Brendan LaVallee doubled in his only at bat while driving in two and walking twice, and junior Brendan Carter went 2-for-4 with two runs and two stolen bases. First-year Joe Kemlage earned the win after allowing two runs on six hits through five innings, fanning six.
AIC scored twice in the first inning, on a sacrifice fly and a wild pitch, before Robertson's two-out RBI single in the third was met by Phillips' two-out RBI double in the home half. Moran's RBI single made it 3-2 in the fifth, and he moved into scoring position on an outfield error but was eventually stranded at third. AIC pulled away with four runs in the bottom portion, as LaVallee and redshirt sophomore Andrew Ciacciarelli both ripped two-out, two-run doubles.
The Purple Knights return to action with eight games in Fort Myers, Fla., between March 11 and 15. They take on Wisconsin Lutheran College on the opening day for a 12 p.m. doubleheader.