GORHAM, ME-Eastern Connecticut State scored twice in the bottom of the eighth inning and held on to defeat the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth baseball team, 10-9, in the first round of the Little East Conference Tournament at the University of Southern Maine Baseball Stadium Wednesday.
Trailing, 9-8, entering the bottom of the eighth, the Warriors tied the game on center fielder Mike Riemer's run-scoring single. Second baseman Drew Accomando's RBI single later in the inning gave the Warriors the lead for good.
The Corsairs had battled from behind, taking the lead in the top of the eighth on a two-out, two-run single by sophomore third baseman George Aggostini (Dighton, MA/Dighton-Rehoboth HS/Marist).
UMass Dartmouth grabbed the early lead, scoring a run in the top of the first inning. Sophomore center fielder Ryan Medeiros (Acushnet, MA/New Bedford HS/Eckerd) led off with a double and moved to third when freshman left fielder Connor Shaw (Goffstown, NH/Goffstown HS) flied to right. Aggostini singled Medeiros home.
ECSU tied it in the second without hitting the ball out of the infield. Accomando beat out an infield hit, advanced to second and third on a pair of infield grounders, and scored on an infield hit by right fielder Tyler Caserta.
The Warriors took the lead in the third on a solo homer by catcher Nik Ververis. UMD tied it in the fourth when sophomore shortstop Nate Farias (Fall River, MA/Durfee HS) singled, advanced to third on a wild pickoff throw, and came home on a single by senior second baseman Corey Allison (Taunton, MA/Coyle-Cassidy HS/Massasoit CC).
Eastern scored three in its half of the fourth to take a 5-2 lead. Caserta grounded out with the bases loaded to drive in one run, while left fielder Tommy McKenna's subsequent single drove in two more.
UMD took the lead back in its half of the fifth. Junior right fielder Wayne Bolz (Billerica, MA/Billerica Memorial HS) tripled and scored on Medeiros' double. Aggostini singled Medeiros home, and senior catcher Matt Worden (New Bedford, MA/New Bedford HS) followed with a two-run double to give the Corsairs the lead. Allison capped the rally with an RBI single.
Riemer got the Warriors a run back in the last of the fifth with a sacrifice fly, and then Eastern went ahead in the seventh on first baseman Joe Balowski's sacrifice fly and an RBI single by Caserta, setting the stage for the eighth inning rallies by both teams.
Matt Purnell, the fourth Eastern Connecticut pitcher, finished the game and earned the victory with an inning and two-thirds of scoreless relief, improving his record to 6-1. Freshman Matt Russell (Townsend, MA/North Middlesex HS), who relieved starter Nick Fuller (New Bedford, MA/New Bedford HS) in the sixth, took the loss for the Corsairs and fell to 1-2.
"Eastern's a good team, we got solid pitching, but we gave them extra outs on several occasions, and you just can't do that in this tournament against quality teams," said UMass Dartmouth Head Coach Bob Prince. "You have to play clean games, especially defensively, and you can't give teams extra outs. We made four errors, and there were a few more plays we could have made, and you can't put too much pressure on your pitching staff. We swung the bats well against their number one guy and their top two relievers, and when you score that many runs in a situation like that, you have to win the game."
The Corsairs dropped to 15-22 with the defeat, while the Warriors improved to 29-11-1 with the victory. Eastern Connecticut advanced to face the winner of the game between Keene Stats and UMass Boston Thursday at 3:30 p.m. UMass Dartmouth will face Western Connecticut in an elimination game Thursday morning at 9:30.
UMASS DARTMOUTH BASEBALL