MANSFIELD, Conn. -- Junior catcher Cory DeMedeiros (Fall River, Mass.) went 2-for-4 and drove in what proved to be the game-winning runs in the seventh inning as the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth held off a furious comeback bid to defeat intra-state rival University of Massachusetts Boston, 7-5, in Game 3 of the 2014 Little East Conference Baseball Championship tournament this evening at the Eastern Baseball Stadium.
UMass Dartmouth (20-20) will advance to face No. 12 University of Southern Maine at 6 p.m. in Game 6 tomorrow night in a rematch of the 2013 Little East Conference Championship Game.
The top five hitters in the Corsairs lineup combined for all of their eight hits, led by DeMedeiros. Junior Ben Monteiro (Swansea, Mass.) was 2-for-4 with a run scored, while classmate Ryan Medeiros (Acushnet, Mass.) reached safely twice with his team-leading 20th double of the season and a walk. Juniors George Agostini (Dighton, Mass.), Nate Farias (Fall River, Mass.) and Alex Newton (Saco, Maine) each drove in a run.
Junior starter Nick Fuller (Acushnet, Mass.) earned his third win of the season to even his individual record at 3-3. The southpaw limited the Beacons to three runs, one of which was earned, on six hits and three walks, while striking out two. Senior Karney Boff (North Dighton, Mass.) threw three innings of relief to record his second save of the season.
UMass Dartmouth spotted its intra-state rival with an early 2-0 advantage, when UMass Boston scored a pair of unearned runs in the top of the first. The Beacons threatened to extend their lead in the following inning, loading the bases with no outs. Fuller was able to induce a fielder's choice to cut a run down at the plate before escaping the jam with a strikeout and a deep flyball to centerfield.
The Corsairs seized the momentum by pushing across two runs in the bottom of the third. Senior Wayne Bolz (Billerica, Mass.) opened the frame with a four-pitch walk and advanced to third on a Medeiros double down the right field line. Agostini lifted a sacrifice fly to left field to drive in UMass Dartmouth's first run of the contest and moved Medeiros to third. The junior centerfield evened the ballgame on the next pitch, scoring on a passed ball.
After exchanging runs in the fourth inning, the Corsairs took their first lead of the contest in the sixth. With one-out, junior Alberto Vasquez (Roxbury, Mass.) was hit by a pitch and advanced to third on a double by Monteiro. Farias gave UMass Dartmouth an advantage it would not relinquish, plating Vasquez on a ground out to shortstop.
The Corsairs scored three important insurance runs in the seventh to increase their advantage to 7-3. Sophomore Matt Russell (Townsend, Mass.) pushed a bunt down the first base line to spark the outburst. After Russell reached second on a wild pitch, the Beacons intentionally walked Medeiros to set up a force at each of the three bases. Agostini registered a productive out to the second basemen, allowing Russell and Medeiros to move up on the play. Russell jogged home on a wild pitch before DeMedeiros laced a two-run single into left field.
UMass Boston would not go quietly in its final at-bats, scoring two runs on a hit and an error. Boff retired the first two batters he faced before junior Anthony Gomes (San Francisco, Calif.) worked a walk. The Beacons extended their inning on a defensive miscue, while junior Charlie LaPaglia (Marshfield, Mass.) drove in a pair of runs with a single through the left side of the infield. Junior Chris Adams (Whitman, Mass.) hit a frozen rope into centerfield, but Medeiros was able to track down his seventh putout of the game to seal the victory for the Corsairs.
Junior Kyle Szatrowski (Agawam, Mass.) suffered the setback, lowering his record to 4-2. The left-handed hurler gave up three earned runs on five hits, while fanning three. Classmate Josh Cumminskey (Lowell, Mass.) threw two innings of relief, giving up three runs on three hits.