WORCESTER, Mass. – The Clark University baseball team had its ninth-inning comeback stopped short as visiting Elms College held on to a 5-4 non-conference victory in the 2020 season opener on Saturday afternoon at Granger Field.
Score: Blazers 5, Cougars 4
Records: Clark University (0-1) | Elms College (1-0)
How it Happened
Seniors Collin Porter (Brookfield, Conn.) and Nick Jordan (Seaford, N.Y.) led the Cougars offensively, each finishing the day 2-for-3 and 2-for-4 respectively at the dish. Porter scored a pair of runs while connecting on the first homer of the season for Clark while Jordan swatted a double.
On the mound, junior left-hander Nick Guarino (New Haven, Conn.) tossed 8.1 innings, surrendering two earned runs on 11 hits and striking out seven in his season-debut. First-year John Bruzzese (Westwood, Mass.) made his first career appearance for the Cougars, recording a pair of strikeouts and allowing one hit in relief.
For Elms, senior Kevin Banas put forth a strong seven innings complete of work while allowing two earned runs on five hits and striking out five. Offensively, the Blazers were led by three-hit efforts from both Josh Pasini and Nathan Ayala, including a two-run homer from Ayala.
The Cougars gained an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first as senior Derek Lefebvre (Groton, Mass.) doubled with a sharp liner to left field before classmate Ryan Ruhlin (Portland, Maine) followed up with an RBI triple into the right centerfield gap to put the host in front.
Elms pulled even in the top of the second as a throwing error allowed Kyle Powell to reach base before Josh Keaton brought him in with a two-out single into right centerfield.
The Blazers had a chance in the top of the fourth as they put the first two runners aboard to start the inning before a nicely placed sacrifice bunt from Austin Roy moved both into scoring position with one out. However, Guarino escaped the jam, inducing a swinging strikeout before fielding a pop fly to end the inning with the 1-1 tie intact.
In the top of the fifth, Elms struck for three runs to snag a 4-1 lead with the damage in the inning coming from a two-out two-run homer to left field from Ayala.
Clark a run back in the bottom of the seventh when Porter cranked a solo homer to the deep part of the field, clearing the fence in left centerfield to make it a 4-2 deficit.
Elms recouped the run in the top of the ninth inning as a single from Pasini and a stolen base by the senior moved him into scoring position. Cam Griffin singled to bring in his teammate before Bruzzese escaped the inning without further damage with a pair of strikeouts.
The Cougars made it interesting in the home-half of the ninth as senior Andrew Thibault (Nashua, N.H.) singled to put the first runner aboard before a knock through the infield from Jordan loaded up the bases.
Later in the inning, senior Dylan Horn (Sterling, Conn.) brought home a pair of Cougars on a single to make it a one-run game, but the comeback attempt fell short one batter later as a sinking liner in the outfield from Lefebvre was snared by Cameron Griffin for the final out of the game.
Clark finished the game with eight hits to 12 from Elms with the host leaving seven on base to that of nine from the visiting Blazers.
The Cougars return to Granger Field on Sunday, February 23 when they host St. Joseph's College of Maine in a doubleheader starting at 12:00 PM.