Assistant Sports Editor
BENNINGTON -- For a second or two, right after the ball left Corey Armstrong's bat in the bottom of the fifth inning tracing a steady arc to deep right-center, it looked like the Southern Vermont College senior had a sweet souvenir to keep from the final game in his hometown.
But a swirling wind shaved the last few feet necessary for a memorable home run. The ball dove to the base of the fence and out of play for a ground-rule double.
"I was hoping, I was hoping. It would've been nice," said Armstrong. "It went under the gate out there."
Armstrong still scored, crossing home as the Mountaineers' go-ahead run three batters later, but hot-hitting Mitchell had the final say on Sunday. The Mariners' four-run seventh inning proved decisive, catapulting them to a 9-5 victory at Bill Epstein Field and a weekend sweep in New England Collegiate Conference baseball action.
Southern Vermont, which finishes its season at 11-24 (5-13 NECC), began the weekend with an outside chance of extending its season with a berth in the conference playoffs. A sweep of Mitchell (21-11-1, 15-3) would have done the trick.
Lopsided losses on Saturday -- 11-2 in Game 1; 15-4 in Game 2 -- erased those hopes but Sunday still presented a chance for the Mountaineers to snap a 12-game losing skid and end the year with a win.
"We wanted to play better defensively and [be] better pitching-wise," SVC coach Dave Gage said.
"The last couple weeks we'd been walking too many guys and I think this weekend we did a much better job of throwing strikes, but we just ran into a good offensive team."
In Sunday's nine-inning regular-season finale, Southern Vermont took a 5-4 lead into the seventh after reliever Joel DeFedele held Mitchell scoreless in the fifth and sixth. The Mariners tied the game in the fourth with three runs off starter Kurt Kowalczyk.
DeFedele yielded a two-out double to Drew Doyle that tied the game, 5-5. The next batter, Neftali Arro, gave the Mariners another run -- and the lead -- off an error at third base. Dustyn Marfy took over for DeFedele on the mound but gave up a two-run homer to Nova Crespo that turned the game.
"We made an error -- that's the defense part -- and couldn't get the next guy out," Gage said. "That's the one thing, going forward, we have to do a better job of, getting mentally tougher -- when there's an error, get the next guy out, when there's a walk, get the next guy out so it doesn't hurt you.
"One mistake cost us three runs."
Roland Hernandez wen 1-for-3 with a walk and two RBIs to lead SVC. Crespo and Eddie Lorah went 2-for-3 for Mitchell, which finished with eight hits against five Mountaineer arms.
Nik Kindervater, pitching three innings of hitless relief for Mitchell starter Josh Zurita (five innings, five runs, five hits), earned the win. DeFedele took the loss.
Mitchell finishes the season second in the NECC standings behind Daniel Webster. SVC ends in sixth.
"It was our last game. The seniors, we came out [on the field] in the third inning and I felt the same as yesterday, just trying to win my last game," Armstrong said.