Middle Innings Prove Costly as Massasoit Falls at CCRI in Region 21 Tourney Opener

#19 DJ Lopes (Photo Credit: Louann Penzo)
#19 DJ Lopes (Photo Credit: Louann Penzo)

WARWICK, R.I. ---- The Massasoit baseball team played right with the top-seed CCRI Knights on their home field through the first four frames, but the home squad scored four times in both the fifth and sixth innings to claim an 11-2 victory in the Region 21 Tournament opener on Thursday afternoon.

The fourth-seeded Warriors (10-20) will face No. 3 Quinsigamond on Saturday at Tivnan Park in Worcester at 11 AM in the loser's bracket of the double-elimination tournament.

Lopes (0-3), a New Bedford native, who pitched into the fifth, matched CCRI starter Zach D'Andrea (6-0) with goose eggs on the scoreboard through the first four frames.

In the fifth, the Knights (22-10) loaded the bases with no outs, spelling the day for the freshman southpaw. Lopes finished the day pitching 4+ innings, allowing two runs, one earned, off five hits, with five walks and four punchouts.

Coach Kraig Kupiec went to his bullpen, utilizing sophomore Luke DiTondo (Marshfield). The righty induced a double play, allowing one run as it appeared the Warriors would escape the big inning.

However, the Knights took advance of an infield miscue that led to three more runs as they led 4-0 entering the top of the sixth.

The Massasoit offense responded as Ian Nadeau (Brockton) and Jonathan O'Donnell (Hull) started the frame with back-to-back base knocks. Each would later come around and score off sac flies from Josh Truehart (Brockton) and David Logan (Dedham).

Trailing just 4-2, CCRI answered right back with four more runs and three more in the eighth to round out the scoring.

Despite only managing four hits as a team, the Warriors drew six walks as they put at least one base runner on in seven of eight innings played.

"We knew we would have our hands full today against CCRI," Kupiec said. "They are strong all the way around. Coming in today's ballgame, we knew we had to play our very best baseball to grab an upset. For the first half of the game, that was the case and we were matching them pitch for pitch. Lopes had an outstanding performance using all of his pitching, working both sides of the plate. Our relievers – DiTondo, Stover and Navarro – were effective as well.

"A few defensive miscues late in the game allowed them to break it open. Our offense wasn't clicking today as it had been and while we seem to be threatening with baserunners most innings, we couldn't get that timely hit to get us our big inning. That ultimately did us in. The guys played hard and I'm proud of them."

Thursday's meeting marked the first time that Massasoit and CCRI met in the Region 21 Tournament since May 2, 2003, the last time the Warriors were an NCJAA Division II program. CCRI transitioned to an NJCAA Division III program this season.