Baseball walks-it-off versus Lesley with Loveland grand slam


Bryan Simmons-Hayes

Briggs Loveland ended the day 3-for-5, with two runs scored, a grand slam, and seven RBIs.

By Camilo Fonseca, Editor-at-large

The Emerson baseball team notched its first win of the season against Lesley University on Tuesday in spectacular—and bases-clearing—fashion.

With two outs and bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, sophomore infielder Briggs Loveland hit a towering grand slam to prevent the game from going to extra innings. The moonshot capped off a thrilling back-and-forth game against the Lynx, and brought the Lions’ record to 1-2 on the season.

Emerson’s bench erupted after the ball cleared the right field fence. The team, fresh off two consecutive losses in close games against Lasell University and New England College, were hungry for a win.

“Of course I’m happy for the moment, for myself,” Loveland said. “But I’m really just happy that we won that game.”

The last minute heroics came after the Lions battled back from two deficits of multiple runs. 

The Lynx opened the scoring, taking advantage of a walk and a hit-by-pitch to score two runs in the first inning. An RBI single in the third inning earned another Lesley run, bringing the score to 3-0.

Emerson’s lineup was unable to register a hit through the first four innings, thanks to Lesley left-handed pitcher Evan Swift. In the bottom of the fifth, though, the Lions managed to capitalize off two singles from senior catcher Matt Nachamie and infielder Chris Ferara—thanks to a bunt from Loveland, who managed to score both runners. Loveland advanced to second on an error from Swift, and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt from junior utility Ty Bourne. 

A double from Emerson sophomore outfielder Jordi Arboleda was enough to bring the tying run home before the end of the fifth, but the score didn’t stay level for long. The Lions eked out a one-run lead in the sixth, after senior infielder Thai Morgan hit a leadoff homer to bring the score to 4-3.

In the seventh, Emerson replaced junior starter Benny Guevara with senior right-hander A.J. Ortega. Lesley’s leadoff batter struck out, but managed to reach first on a wild pitch. One stolen base and a double later, and the Lynx managed to erase the Lions’ lead. A single and a double brought in another run, and Lesley edged out to a 5-4 deficit.

Another Emerson pitching change in the eighth failed to stop the bleeding. Lesley scored another run off sophomore righty Alex Nissenberg, bringing the deficit to 6-4. 

Those two runs weren’t enough to discourage the Lions, however.

“We’re always on to the next pitch, always on to the next inning,” Loveland said. “I think that’s so important in being a good baseball team, coming back in those moments when you’re down like that.”

In the bottom of the eighth, Lesley first-year southpaw Roy Lenhard surrendered a double and a walk to Morgan and Nachamie, respectively. A failed pickoff from Lesley’s catcher went into the outfield, bringing Morgan home. Loveland knocked a single past the second baseman to score Nachamie and once again tie the score at 6-6.

To start the ninth, the Lions brought in graduate righty Quinton Copeland from the bullpen. Copeland retired all three batters in order on three consecutive ground balls, bringing the top of the Emerson order to the plate.

After losing their season opener in extra innings, the Lions were determined not to let this game get out of their hands.

Lesley closer Patrick Teasdale gave up a leadoff walk to Emerson one-hole Jake Hatch, who moved to second on a sac bunt from Copeland. Teasdale issued an intentional walk to Morgan, but fared no better with Nachamie, who belted a single through the left side to load the bases. After Ferara struck out swinging, it was time for Loveland, already with three RBI on the day, to come to the plate.

“Before the at-bat, I was thinking, ‘This is going to come down to me,’” he said. “I had it preset in my mind. I was like, ‘Hey, it’s gonna come down to you. You need to be ready.’”

A swing and a ball brought the count to 1-1. Loveland sat on the fastball.

“I knew it was hit hard enough to where it was gonna go deep,” he said. “I just didn’t know if it was going to be caught in front of the wall or just get over it. Luckily enough, it was the second.”

As the ball soared over the right-field wall and into the snowbank, Loveland—and the rest of the Lions squad—let out a “big scream.”

“I just wanted to win badly,” he said. “I’m glad I got the job done, and did it in a big way.”

Despite his impressive scoreline, Loveland stressed that the victory was a team effort.

“You can’t put us away that easily,” he said. “There’s always a fight, there’s no quit in this team whatsoever. We have such a great lineup that can come through in big ways, hit home runs, and come through in small ways.”

The euphoria of the team’s first season victory carried into their next game, Loveland said. On Wednesday, the Lions defeated Framingham State by a margin of 11-2—a margin possible thanks to the positive energy from the walk-off.

“[The Lesley game] gave us a wake up call,” Loveland said. “It was like, ‘Hey, we need to get our act together and play like a complete baseball team.’ We can’t just depend on these clutch home runs and these doubles.”

Instead, the Lions succeeded against Framingham by playing “small ball.”

“We sac bunted a few times, moved guys over in clutch situations, stole a few bags, and just put the ball in play,” he said. “And we won by a large amount this time.” 

Emerson’s next opponent is Rutgers University at Newark, whom they will meet on March 12 in a spring break series hosted in Auburndale, Fla.