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Offense Held in Check as Golden Bears Drop Season Opener to Springfield College, 4-0

Junior Paul Wetmore struck out eight batters over five shutout innings in Western New England's season-opening loss to Springfield College on Sunday. (Photo by Rachael Margossian)
Junior Paul Wetmore struck out eight batters over five shutout innings in Western New England's season-opening loss to Springfield College on Sunday. (Photo by Rachael Margossian)

Wetmore matches career-high with eight strikeouts

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (March 4, 2018) –
The Western New England University baseball team was limited to one hit in a 4-0, season-opening loss to crosstown rival Springfield College on Sunday afternoon at Archie Allen Field. 

Top Performers
• Junior right-hander Paul Wetmore (Hamden, Conn.) got the start for the Golden Bears and did not receive a decision despite turning in an impressive outing, as he matched his career-high with eight strikeouts and surrendered just two hits over five shutout innings.
• Junior shortstop Alex Loparco (Riverside, Conn.) accounted for Western New England's lone hit with his fourth inning single, while classmate Aaron Rios (Stratford, Conn.) walked twice and stole a base.

• Springfield pitchers Brian Johnson (East Haddam, Conn.), Fletcher Comment (Westbrook, Conn.) and Cole Donovan (Holderness, N.H.) combined to shut out the Golden Bears. Johnson opened the contest on the mound and gave up just one hit while striking out six hitters over four frames, before giving way to Comment, who struck out four over 3.2 innings. Donovan finished the job by recording the final four outs with a pair of punchouts.  
• Senior outfielder Kyle Allen (Westerly, R.I.) provided the game-winning hit for the Pride with his sixth-inning RBI single, while junior infielder Brandon Russo (Lisbon, Conn.) cleared the bases with a three-run double later in the frame.

Game Review
Springfield missed a chance to open the scoring in the bottom of the second inning, as Wetmore walked the bases loaded before striking out Russo to end the threat.

The Golden Bears were unable to capitalize on a bases-loaded opportunity of their own in the fourth. Loparco led off the frame with a single up the middle and moved into scoring position with a stolen base. Senior Jared Rosenblatt (Avon, Conn.) and Rios walked later in the inning to load the bases, but Johnson struck out junior catcher Brian Valeriano (Stratford, Conn.) to keep the game scoreless.

The Pride nearly took the lead again in the bottom of the fifth. Russo singled with one out, stole second, and attempted to cross the plate on a single to center field by senior catcher Peter Marsicano (Allentown, N.J.). Russo was thrown out at the plate, however, by Western New England junior Erik Lacaire (Worcester, Mass.) as the stalemate continued.

Springfield finally broke through with four runs in the bottom of the sixth. Junior right-hander Andrew Foley (Wilbraham, Mass.) came on in relief of Wetmore and let the only two batters he faced to reach base before being pulled in favor of junior Jeremy Morris (Montrose, N.Y.). Morris issued a walk and then recorded the first out of the inning, but Allen followed with an RBI single through the left side of the infield. Two batters later, Russo doubled down the left field line, plating three more runs.

Western New England was unable to generate any offense over the final three innings as Comment and Donovan recorded the final nine outs in order.

• Springfield's win marks its first over the Golden Bears since the 2003 campaign.
• Sunday's contest was the first ever at Springfield's Archie Allen Field.
• Wetmore's other eight-strikeout effort came in Western New England's 3-0 win over Wisconsin-Platteville on March 18 in Florida last season. 

Up Next
Western New England (0-1) returns to action next weekend with three games at the New England Baseball Complex in Northborough, Mass. The Golden Bears will face MIT at 11 a.m. on Saturday, before playing a doubleheader against Brandeis beginning at noon on Sunday. Springfield (1-0) hosts Westfield State on Monday at 3:30 p.m.