For the first time since 2002, the Stevens Institute of Technology baseball team will be playing in the NCAA Division III Tournament. Stevens defeated Baruch College, 5-3, in the CUNYAC Championship this afternoon at MCU Park in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Stevens (26-13) earned an automatic bid to the tournament with three victories in the CUNYAC playoffs since Wednesday. The Ducks topped Baruch, 6-2, on Wednesday and then shut out the College of Staten Island, 3-0, on Thursday afternoon.
The 26 victories are the second-most in program history and one shy of the school record of 27 set back in 2006.
Over the three-day tournament, sophomore Nicholas Sieber (Shrewsbury, Mass.) went 6-for-11 with a homerun, a double, four runs batted in, three runs scored and three stolen bases. Defensively, Sieber made seven assists en route to being named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.
Baruch led off the game with a single and moved its runner up to third, but senior Matt Buccheri (Little Silver, N.J.) struck out the final batter to keep Baruch scoreless. Buccheri tossed 6.1 innings pitched in the ballgame and fanned eight batters for his third win of the season. He scattered five hits with one earned run and did not surrender a walk.
The Ducks threatened in the bottom half of the first with two runners on and two out. Sieber just missed bringing in junior Brian Hennelly (Holbrook, N.J.) and sophomoreJayson Yano (Foothill Ranch, Calif.) on consecutive pitches that landed just foul down the left and right field lines. Sieber eventually tapped out to third base to end the inning and Stevens could not score.
John Yuksekol gave the Bearcats a 1-0 lead in the top of the second with a two-out solo homerun to left, but Stevens exploded for four runs in the bottom of the third inning on three hits.
After two outs were recorded, Hennelly walked and then senior Dan Allen (Egg Harbor Township, N.J.) reached on an infield error. Yano ripped a double down the left field line to plate Hennelly and Sieber brought in two more on the next at bat with a single up the middle. Sieber then stole second before a walk to freshman Bret Viola (Carmel, N.Y.) before they both pulled off a double steal. Sophomore Tyler Bush (Bristol, Conn.) drove in Sieber with another single to cap off the inning.
Baruch looked poised to answer in the fourth as its first two runners reached on a single and double. After Buccheri struck out the next hitter, Eric Ulino sent a fly ball to right for a potential sacrifice fly, but Hennelly came up throwing and gunned down Nicholas Pomo-Roman at the plate for the double play.
The Ducks tallied another run in the fifth on a wild pitch during an intentional walk that skipped to the backstop and allowed Sieber to come home. He singled to get things started, stole second and advanced to third on a ground out.
In the top of the eighth, Keith Ezersky stroked Baruch's second homerun of the contest with two outs to pull to within two runs at 5-3, but that was the closest the Bearcats would get.
Junior Gary Boardman (Staten Island, N.Y.) recorded 2/3 of an inning pitched and struck out one batter. Senior Mark Poinsett (Ocean Gate, N.J.) gave up one run in an inning of work and Allen shut the door with a perfect ninth inning for his third save of the year.
Yano also put together a stellar tournament going 5-for-11 at the plate with a pair of doubles, stolen bases, runs scored and RBI. He also tossed a complete game four-hit shutout against Staten Island with six strikeouts.
The NCAA.com Selection Show will take place at midnight on May 11-May12. If there is a time change, appropriate notifications will be sent out.