by Joshua Kummins
LOWELL, Mass. – The best of the best in New England college baseball took to the LeLacheur Park field on Thursday night for the 37th Annual New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association All-Star Game.
The game pitted the region’s best Division I players (the University team) against the best Division II players and Division III seniors (the College team).
In a back-and-forth affair, the teams ended in a 3-3 tie in front of a crowd of 250 local college baseball supporters. The D-II and III Collegians jumped out to a fast start, but the Division I University team came back late in the game to salvage the tie.
The tie was just the second in the history of the NEIBA All-Star Game and the first since the College and University squads played a scoreless draw in 1986. The overall 37-year series favors the University team, 22-12-2.
Both starting pitchers worked in the first two innings as Stephen Peterson (Rhode Island) and Nick Ahern (Babson) allowed just three total hits.
Northeastern freshman Aaron Barbosa had two of those hits against Ahern for the University team and took second on a stolen base both times. His Huskies teammate Andrew Leenhouts served the big blow in the early innings.
The College team took their lead in the third inning against left-hander Vinny Lally (Yale) as he hit a pair of batters, forcing home third baseman John Phelan (Fitchburg State) after his fielder’s choice.
Leenhouts induced that blow two innings later in the form of a two-run home run to second baseman Ryan Walsh (UMass-Boston).
After Phelan reached on an error to open the inning, Leenhouts left a pitch high in the zone and Walsh cleared the left field wall for a two-run home run that struck the top of the wall and was just enough to extend the College lead to 3-0.
Walsh has had a knack for hitting the longball this season as he finished the spring with 12 home runs for the Beacons, which ranked sixth nationally in Division III. The home run allowed Walsh, a Newton North product, to take home the game’s offensive player of the game.
Leenhouts was a strong pitcher this spring for the Huskies and typically started the middle game in a weekend series. His 3-8 record was not indicative of his performance in the spring, compiling a 3.67 ERA in 13 starts.
The University team got on the board in the bottom of the seventh inning against Tufts hurler Ed Bernstein.
Left fielder Greg Annarumo (Rhode Island) was hit by an inside pitch to open the inning and he then took second base on a steal. His Rams teammate and right fielder Kyle Borden sent him the rest of the way home on a single that dropped into the outfield on medium depth.
Bernstein closed the inning with a pair of outfield fly balls and a slow ground ball to minimize the damage and keep the lead at two runs.
Western New England’s Matt Rogers came in to pitch next for the College team and allowed the game-squaring runs in the eighth inning as third baseman Garret Smith (Boston College) scored on a sacrifice fly to left field and Annarumo knocked a double to the center field wall.
Smith reached on a fielder’s choice as the second batter of the inning and came around on the sacrifice by catcher Kyle Nisson (Quinnipiac).
Annarumo, the next batter for the University team, crushed a double over the head of College center fielder Michael White to score first baseman Peter Copa (Massachusetts) after his double.
In the ninth inning, the College team looked to salvage the tie as it sent Derek Miller (Tufts) to the mound and the Jumbo lefty did just that as he retired the side in order, including a strikeout of Dartmouth second baseman Jeff Onstott.
The NEIBA awarded their Pitcher of the Game award to Peterson as he allowed just one hit in two innings. The Danvers, Mass. native had a strong season for the Rams as he posted six wins and a 3.06 ERA in the spring.