Last Monday, the Lesley University baseball team made program history, winning the NECC championship for the first time. And while this was impressive, it comes with an even sweeter ending: an automatic bid to play in the NCAA tournament.
Here’s how it happened. After earning the fourth seed in the playoffs, the Lynx took down top seeded Mitchell College in a tight 5-4 victory, followed by a 3-2 nail-biter against Elms College. This gave the team an automatic slot in the championship game. “We felt very confident going into the playoffs, let alone the championship game,” said sophomore catcher, Jacob Cervantes. “When we play complete baseball, we can compete with anyone,” sophomore first baseman Ryan Pumphret agreed. With that as their mindset, the Lynx drove right into the finals for the New England Collegiate Conference.
Their opponent, first round foe Mitchell College was waiting for them. After going down early to a 3-0 Mitchell lead, the Lynx slowly scraped their way back. Sophomore shortstop Nic Ferragine, freshmen first basemen Matt Warner, and freshmen outfielder Steven DePalma all contributed RBIs to help even the game. However, Mitchell’s bats couldn’t be silenced; throughout the course of the game, they put three more runs across the board, making it a 6-3 game all the way to the last inning.
But the Lynx never gave up. In the bottom of the ninth, after a fielding error by Mitchell, Vincent Taliercio reached first. Following this, came a string of four consecutive hits to even the score at 6-6. After a ground-out by Jacob Cervantes, senior captain Mike Slaby stepped up to the plate. With all the makings of the right moment, and destiny on the Lynx side, Slaby delivered the biggest hit of his life. The ball flew off the bat and over the fence, which propelled the Lynx to history. Slaby roared around the bases, as his teammates chased him down until he reached home.
However, the celebration didn’t stop there as the moment made national news. After being captured on video, ESPN reached out to put it on their nationally-renowned show “SportsCenter.” For the historic moment, Slaby’s hit received the #2 play on SportsCenter’s “Top 10 Plays of the Day.” After reaching superstardom, Slaby remained incredibly humble. Speaking of the moment, he said, “This whole season, let alone the game has been a team effort. Everyone has done their part and mine has just happened to be one swing. We came together and battled this entire weekend as a team, which has given us the amazing moment.”
For his late-game heroics, Slaby was named the Most Valuable Player, and joined pitchers Tom Muratore and Nick Iadevaio on the all-tournament team. The Lynx will take on an opponent to be named later this week (on May 18th), and then again on the 19th. You can follow the latest news about the Lynx by visiting the Lesley Athletics website and clicking on the baseball’s page. And if you want to watch the up-coming games this week live, click on the schedule, and scroll to the bottom, where you will see a “Video” button. This has been an amazing season, and the players are hoping to extend it.