Battlin' Bears Scratch and Claw Way to NEWMAC Tourney Berth by Sweeping Clark

Cory Sonnega
Cory Sonnega

NEW LONDON, Conn. – With their season on the line, Coast Guard overcame a four-run deficit in the opener and a five-run deficit in the nightcap and swept Clark 11-10 in ten innings and 10-9 to clinch a berth in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) tournament and keep Clark from earning the final spot.

Coast Guard had their backs against the wall all day and never led in the opener until senior Cory Sonnega led off the bottom the tenth with a game-winning solo homer, the first of his career, to deep right field after Clark led 10-7 in the eighth.

Clark won the series opener 8-4 yesterday and needed just one win today to clinch the final tournament spot while the Bears needed to sweep.

Coast Guard improves to 16-19 overall and finishes 8-9 in the NEWMAC while Clark drops to 17-20 overall and finishes conference play at 7-10.

The fifth-seeded Bears will play at fourth-seeded Babson in a single-elimination game on Thursday with the winner advancing to play a three-game series at top-seeded MIT on Saturday and Sunday if necessary. Coast Guard which was swept by Babson this season, beat the Beavers 6-1 in the single-elimination NEWMAC tournament game last season.


Sonnega's blast in the tenth completed a comeback which saw the Bears trail 5-1 in the fifth and 10-7 in the eighth.

Junior Kyle Jackson hit the first two homers of his career in the win as he was 3 for 5 with a pair of RBI's while sophomore Zach Serna also had three hits. Junior Timbo Duncan and seniors Mark Behne and Sonnega each added two hits.

Clark jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first on an RBI double by graduate student David Eschen and a two-run single by senior Zach Richall.

The Bears got a run in the second on a solo homer by Jackson before Clark added two in the third on a sacrifice fly by senior Chris Dibble before the Cougars added a run on an error for a 5-1 lead.

Coast Guard erupted for four in the fifth to tie the game as they got a run on an error before sophomore Alex Murdoch had a two-run double and finally the Bears tied the game 5-5 on an RBI double by senior Kyle Wood.

Clark as they did all day long responded quickly with two in the top of the sixth taking the lead on an error before senior James Conway added an RBI double for a 7-5 lead.

The Bears tied it in the home half as Jackson led off with a solo homer to right before freshman Luke Thompson's sacrifice fly made it 7-7.

The Cougars scored three times in the seventh as sophomore Kyle Bonicki drew a bases loaded walk to take an 8-7 lead before Eschen's two-run single appeared to break the Bears back giving Clark a 10-7 lead.

Coast Guard would rally in the eighth as Duncan and Mark Behne led off with back-to-back singles. Sonnega drove in a run with a ground out before the Bears added a run on an error. Serna tied the game 10-10 with a two-out RBI single.

Freshman Dustin Reeder (2-1) allowed a single in the ninth and retired the Cougars in order in the tenth to pick up the win in relief.

Junior Colton Cannon started for the Bears and went six innings allowing eight hits and seven runs, four earned while walking four and fanning seven.

Sophomore Patrick Robinson started for Clark and went five innings allowing six hits and five runs, three earned with two walks and two strikeouts.

Junior Joe Gouveia (1-2) took the loss. He allowed a single in the ninth before the homer in the tenth.

Sophomore Teddy Downing, Eschen, Eglow and Richall each had two hits for Clark in the opener.


Coast Guard as they did for the entire first game played from behind. The Cougars scored four runs in the fifth as junior Adam Chochrek had a two-run single followed by an RBI double by senior Chris Dibble as Clark took a 7-2 lead.

The Bears got a single run in the fifth on an RBI ground out by Thompson scoring Duncan, who led off with a single only to see Clark get one in the sixth on an RBI double by Eschen for a 8-3 lead.

Coast Guard got three in the sixth as freshman Will Stephen's delivered an RBI single, Duncan ripped an RBI double and sophomore Christian Toscano added an RBI groundout to make the score 8-6.

The Cougars got a run back in the seventh on an RBI groundout by junior Tyler Hutchinson scoring Richall, who was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning.

The Bears would rally to pull even in home half of the seventh as senior Kyle Wood, who recorded the 100th hit of his career in the fourth inning, laced a two-run double and later scored on a fielder's choice to tie the game at 9-9.

Reeder would come back in relief again in the second game in the top of the eighth and retire the Cougars in order including a pair of strikeouts to end the frame.

In the eighth, Toscano led off with a line drive single to center before sophomore Chris Clark entered as a pinch runner. Clark moved to second on a wild pitch and to third on a ground out before Thompson lifted a sacrifice fly to center to plate the eventual game winning run, the first time all afternoon, the Bears led during a game.

Reeder (3-1) allowed just a walk in the ninth to record his second win of the afternoon as he worked two hitless innings in game two with three strikeouts.

The Bears won despite making four errors which led to seven unearned runs, all in the first five innings as sophomore Cody Bain allowed seven unearned runs on seven hits in five innings work.

Freshman Cal Slepkow worked the first six innings for the Cougars and allowed nine hits and six runs, all earned while fanning four.

Graduate student Taylor Serrano (1-3) pitched the eighth inning and took the loss.

Behne and Duncan each had three hits in the win for Coast Guard while Wood and Toscano each added two hits.

Eschen led Clark with three hits including a pair of doubles while Downing had a pair of hits for the Cougars.

Coast Guard is back in action on Tuesday when they play their final regular season game of the season against Mitchell at Dodd Stadium in Norwich at 4:00.

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