Bangor, Maine - The Baruch Bearcats are the 2019 North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Baseball Champions.
The NAC and the City University of New York Athletic Conference (CUNYAC) are in the first year of a two-year an agreement to align their respective baseball championships in order to maintain access to an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship. Baruch and Husson won their respective conference tournaments for the right to compete for the NAC Championship and access to the national tournament.
Husson won home-batting honors on a coin-flip to start the third and final game of the three-game championship series.
The first three batters for Baruch were up and down. Husson opened with a single and a walk, but then gathered three quick outs.
Conor McCabe smashed a triple to right center field to start the second inning for Baruch. Kemal Deljanin pushed McCabe across the plate with another hit to right center field. Deljanin stole second and third with aggressive base running, and scored when Jacob Auerbach doubled to left. Gerardo Roque grounded out, then JP Ramirez hit a single that scored Auerbach, making it 3-0. Emmanuel Taveras flied out, and then Nicholas Valeriano hit one up the middle, putting two runners on base. A pitching change for Husson put Dustin Smith on the mound in place of Ryan Allender. Liam O'Gara flied out to end the inning.
Luke Covey struck out to start the Husson half of the second inning, and Michael Schneider drew a walk. Noah Brown reached on a fielder's choice play that put Schneider out at second. Nicholas Guerrette flied out to end the inning.
Cam Graham entered the game to pitch for the Eagles to start the third inning. Jorge Mercado walked, and McCabe reached on a fielder's choice that forced Mercado out at second. Deljanin flied out, and Auerbach walked advancing McCabe to second base. Graham escaped the threat when Roque struck out swinging.
Conor Maguire struck out to start the bottom of the third inning. Kobe Rogerson singled to right followed by two quick outs to end the inning with Baruch still leading 3-0.
Ramirez walked and Taveras struck out looking to start the fourth. Valeriano grounded into a double play to end the inning.
In the home-half of the fourth, Alex Chapman, Covey, and Schneider grounded out.
Baruch was also three-up, three-down to start the fifth. Husson catcher Alex Chapman made a beautiful lunging catch in foul territory for the third out.
Brown hit one off the wall in left field and reached third base safely in the bottom of the fifth inning. Guerrette grounded out to third, getting the RBI when Brown scored. Maguire slid into second with a long double and brought the tying run to the plate. Rogerson pushed Maguire to third with a groundout in the infield. David LeBlanc was hit by a pitch, placing runners on the corners with two outs, and forcing a meeting on the mound for Baruch. Ethan Stoddard struck out looking to end the threat with the score 3-1.
On to the top of the sixth inning, Graham got two quick outs with a pop up and groundout, then Roque singled and Ramirez hit a double, placing two runners in scoring position. A pitching change for Husson brought Jacob Gauvin to the mound, and Steven Patterson entered the game to pinch run for Ramirez. Taveras smashed a ball to center field, scoring Roque and Patterson, tallying two RBIs before being tagged out at third to end the inning with Baruch on top, 5-1.
In the bottom of the sixth, Chapman was hit by a pitch, which triggered a pitching change that brought in Matthew Lawlor to replace the starter, Ryan Warner. Covey flied out to shallow right. Brandon Smith pinch hit for Schneider, and Chapman was caught stealing second, before Smith struck out looking.
Nolan Dousa took the mound for the Eagles in the seventh. Valeriano flied out, then O'Gara hammered the ball to right field and reached second base. O'Gara scored on a Mercado single, and Mercado advanced to second on the throw home. McCabe reached first on a rare fielding error by Guerrette, and Mercado moved to third. Deljanin ripped one down the first base line for an RBI single. Auerbach struck out looking before Roque walked to load the bases. Patterson grounded out to second for the final out of the inning, leaving three Bearcats stranded but ahead 7-1.
Brown was hit by a pitch to give the Eagles a base runner in the bottom of the seventh. Guerrette flied out before Maguire launched one to the gap in center for an RBI triple. Maguire then scored on a groundout from Rogerson. LeBlanc grounded out to third to end the inning and the game.
Conor McCabe was named the MVP of the Championship series. Ryan Warner (4-1) earned the win on the mound for Baruch.
Husson's stellar season ends with a 27-16 record.
Baruch awaits the NCAA selection show Monday at noon to find out where they will travel for the regional round of the DIII Baseball Championship.
Fifty-eight teams will be placed in 16 regionals as part of the 2019 field. The regional bracket includes 13 four-team regionals (double elimination) and three two-team regionals (best-of-five). Regional competition runs from May 17-19.
The 16 advancing teams will then play in eight best-of-three super regionals from May 24-25. Eight teams will advance to the 2019 championship, hosted May 31-June 4/5 at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The national champion will be crowned June 4 or 5 in the best-of-three final series.