Baseball ends record-breaking season with two historic victories vs Springfield and MIT


The 2023 Emerson baseball team. Courtesy of Anna Schoenmann.

By Jordan Pagkalinawan, Managing Editor

On Apr. 25, the Emerson baseball team eclipsed a mark 13 years in the making, recording a program-record 16th win with an 8-2 victory over Springfield. The win was also the team’s fourth in the NEWMAC this season, another program best.

After Springfield scored two runs in the first and second innings, the Lions responded with a two-run homer from senior infielder Jake Hatch that tied the game. Emerson then exploded in the seventh inning with a three-peat of RBIs.

Senior infielder Chris Ferara buried a two-run bomb to left field that scored junior catcher Jake Okamoto and gave the Lions a 4-2 lead. Hatch then doubled to left field and scored Morgan and junior utility Ty Bourne. And senior catcher and co-captain Matt Nachamie homered to center field and scored Hatch, putting the exclamation point on their 8-2 win.

In an Instagram post that honored the 2010 Emerson baseball team—which had set the previous program record of 15 wins in the GNAC—the Lions wrote, “With Tuesday’s victory against Springfield, the 2023 team now has set a standard. Thank you to the 2010 team for pushing us everyday.”

Head Coach Nick Vennochi offered his own perspective on the journey to the sweet 16.

“It was huge for the program and the guys,” he said. “We had so many alums and former players hit us up. It was for everybody, honestly.”

“It’s been something we’ve been talking about for a few years now,” Vennochi continued. “This team earned it. They’ve been working really hard. They’ve had a great year and it was awesome to see.”

Regular Season Finale vs. MIT

Following their momentous victory, the Lions lost two of their three games against the MIT Engineers, 9-6 on Apr. 28 and 9-8 on Apr. 29, before beating MIT for the first time in program history, 8-6.

Following their narrow loss in Saturday’s opening bill, which saw Emerson fall short despite graduate outfielder Quinton Copeland’s three-run homer that cut the deficit to 8-6, the Lions were motivated to go out with a bang. They did just that, ending a day to remember with some unforgettable moments.

The first few innings would be a senior showcase on the mound, beginning with starting right-hander AJ Ortega, followed by fellow righty Joshua Caltabiano. Both would get their moments in the sun during the opening inning—along with senior right-handers Owen Anton and Sam Gutkin in the second—before being sent off in emotional farewells. Gutkin was relieved by sophomore right-hander Jake Smith.

MIT struck swiftly in the top of the first, cruising to a 4-0 lead behind an RBI single, RBI double, and consecutive RBI singles. The Lions regained their composure in the bottom of the first inning, as Hatch drilled a two-run homer that scored Copeland and made it a 4-2 ball game. It was Hatch’s third of the day after contributing two homers in the first game. The Engineers continued their hitting clinic, as an RBI triple and RBI single gave them a 6-2 advantage.

Though Smith’s pitching kept MIT humble—recording four strikeouts in three innings—Emerson’s offense remained stagnant until the bottom of the sixth. Then Nachamie crushed a two-run homer to bring the Lions within two, 6-4. The Lions would strike again in the bottom of the seventh, as Bourne ran home on a wild pitch and Copeland’s fly out ended the inning.

Hatch proved his prowess on the mound as a position pitcher in the eighth. He relieved Smith, who finished his day with four strikeouts and three hits allowed in five innings. Hatch struck out two MIT batters and walked two others before a ground out ended the top of the inning. The Lions kept their eyes on the prize as they looked for another shot at history.

Emerson opened the bottom of the eighth with Morgan’s deep double to left field. Hatch then walked on a ball four, setting the stage for Matt Nachamie, who played hero for the Lions before, to deliver another clutch hit.

Nachamie did just that, connecting on a two-run homer that scored Morgan and Hatch, and gave Emerson an 8-6 lead. Needing three more outs to history, Copeland delivered three straight strikeouts to propel Emerson to their 17th and final victory of the season.

Reflecting on the MIT series, Vennochi was pleased with ending the season on a high note and the fact that the team “played our way.”

“Guys had fun, which was good to see,” he said. “[I was a] little disappointed because we left a few on the table against them. I guess that’s the coach talking in me, because I’m happy for these guys. They earned it.”

Vennochi also noted how he was “super proud” of this year’s group, citing their numerous accomplishments.

“We’ve never had 17 wins, we’ve never had two wins in our division,” he added. “This is the most conference wins we’ve had overall … These guys worked their butts off.”

The eighth-year head coach said that the graduate Copeland and the seniors have been instrumental in shifting the culture, which has benefited the program exponentially.

“These guys have been through it all,” Vennochi said. “When they came in here, the coaching was not good. They changed it. This team is tight knit, [and] it’s because of those guys and their buy-in. We love them.”

Sophomore outfielder Nick Favazzo says the group of veteran Lions have meant “everything” to him.

“They’re incredible role models, both in the game of baseball and as people,” he said. “What sets us apart from every other team, regardless of our record, is how much we love each other. It’s evident in how other teams carry themselves as opposed to us.”

“This is a family,” he continued. “Other teams—Babson, Wheaton, MIT—those are teams, but we’re a family. [Copeland and the seniors] started that.”

Hatch, who ends this season with the program record for home runs in a single season at 11, to go along with 19 homers over the course of his four years at Emerson, reflected on his career as a Lion.

“The big thing coming in here was trying to leave this place better than we found it,” Hatch said. “Obviously, our goal was to make the playoffs. That didn’t happen, but we won our last game. MIT is a team we never beat, Babson is a team we never beat, and we broke our wins record for the program. If we can build on this and take it to next year, we just want to see this program get better every year.”

The Lions end the season with a 5-12 record in the NEWMAC and 17-21 overall. Favazzo says that he and the other underclassmen have been highly motivated to improve for next year.

“Build on it,” he said. “That’s what it is. This program has been everywhere but the top, and we’re climbing our way up. The message going forward is, ‘We can do better.’”

When asked how exactly the team can build on their success this season, Vennochi remarked that it comes down to the little things, before sharing an emotional moment with Ferara.

“Honestly, strength and the weight room [will be key],” he said. “The guys [who] were playing today, [those] homers take some strength to do. We need to work on that for sure.”

Hatch’s advice to the returning players is, “Don’t take anything for granted.”

“Work as hard as you can,” he continued. “You can always find a way. There’s always an excuse, but you can always find a way to hit, take ground balls, [or] go to the gym. Whatever you’ve got to do, you can always do more. Keep grinding and keep the program moving forward.”