GORHAM, ME-The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth baseball team fell just short at the Little East Conference Tournament at the University of Southern Maine Baseball Stadium Saturday.
After finishing off a suspended game, a 21-5 win, against UMass Boston Saturday morning, the Corsairs defeated Eastern Connecticut State, 7-6, to advance to the finals before falling to the host Huskies, 4-2, in the championship round.
In Saturday morning's game, the Corsairs built an early lead and held off the Warriors.
UMass Dartmouth took the lead on a first inning RBI single by sophomore first baseman Alex Newton (Saco, ME/Thornton Academy/Franklin Pierce), and then added five more runs in the second. Freshman left fielder Connor Shaw (Goffstown, NH/Goffstown HS) singled home two runs, then sophomore third baseman George Aggostini (Dighton, MA/Dighton-Rehoboth HS/Marist), senior catcher Matt Worden (New Bedford, MA/New Bedford HS) and sophomore shortstop Nate Farias (Fall River, MA/Durfee HS) each singled home a run.
The Warriors came back in their half of the fourth. Second baseman Drew Accomando drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, left fielder Tommy McKenna followed with an RBI single, and catcher Nik Ververis doubled home two more to make it 6-4.
Worden hit a solo homer in the Corsairs' half of the fourth to make it 7-4.
ECSU came back with two runs in the top of the seventh. Center fielder Mike Riemer singled home one run, and a second run scored when first baseman Joe Balowski hit into a double play.
Five pitchers worked for the Corsairs, with sophomore left-hander Nick Fuller (New Bedford, MA/New Bedford HS) earning a save in his second relief appearance of the season when he relieved senior right-hander Tyler White (Westport, MA/Westport HS/Massasoit CC) with one on and one out in the top of the ninth and induced Balowski to hit into a game-ending double play.
Freshman left-hander Aaron Chouinard (Swansea, MA/Case HS), who entered in the fifth and pitched 3.1 innings and allowed two runs, earned the win for the Corsairs and improved to 3-1. ECSU starter Pat Barnett took the loss.
Southern Maine grabbed the lead in the bottom of the third inning of the final game when shortstop Sam Dexter singled, moved to second on an infield out and scored on a single by left fielder Tucker White.
UMD took the lead with two runs in the top of the fifth. Newton singled, Farias walked, and both moved up on a wild pitch. Newton scored on Dexter's error, while Farias came home on Shaw's RBI single.
The Huskies went ahead in the last of the sixth. They loaded the bases on three consecutive infield hits with nobody out. First baseman John Carey tied the game with a sacrifice fly, and then catcher Matt Verrier's infield out put USM ahead. Southern Maine added an insurance run in the seventh when White tripled with two out and scored on center fielder Forrest Chadwick's single.
Andrew Richards, who relieved starter Tyler Leavitt at the start of the fifth inning for Southern Maine, went the rest of the way and earned the victory. UMD sophomore left-hander Nick Fuller (New Bedford, MA/New Bedford HS), who pitched the first seven innings on just two days' rest, took the loss and fell to 4-5.
"We had the lead in the second game, and baseball is a game of inches, we had three bang-bang plays at first to load the bases and a sac fly and an infield grounder to put them (Southern Maine) ahead," said UMass Dartmouth Head Coach Bob Prince. "I can't be more proud of the way our guys played, basically playing three games in one day. We came out here and got good pitching, which kept us in every game, and we swung the bats well. Nick, Aaron and (freshman) Matt Russell (Townsend, MA/North Middlesex HS) all pitched on short rest, Nate Farias played with a hamstring that was bothering him, and a lot of guys stepped up for us. It's not easy to pitch on short rest. Everybody plays for each other, and if you have that and you have the ability, you're going to go somewhere. I can't say enough about our seniors, and what they accomplished during their time here."
The Corsairs finished the season at 18-23, Southern Maine improved to 37-7, while ECSU dropped to 30-13-1 with the defeat. With their victory, Southern Maine earned the LEC's automatic berth in next week NCAA Division III Championships.
UMASS DARTMOUTH BASEBALL