GORHAM, Maine – The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth flummoxed top-seeded Southern Maine with relentless base-running and 7.1 innings from senior starter Sean Callahan (Colchester, Vt.) to knock the hosts out of the LEC Tournament with a 6-3 win on Saturday afternoon. The third-seeded Corsairs advance to the LEC title game at 3:45 p.m. against No. 2 seed UMass Boston.
Score: UMass Dartmouth 6, Southern Maine 3
Records: UMass Dartmouth (25-19) | Southern Maine (30-11)
How it Happened
In his second start of the tournament, Callahan's arm held strong, yielding just three runs on 10 hits while forcing the Huskies to strand 10 runners. Senior Ezequiel Sanchez (Mantai, Puerto Rico) was a perfect 2-for-2, scoring twice with an RBI, while junior Kenny Michael (Norwood, Mass.) and freshman Mitch Baker (Braintree, Mass.) drove in two runs apiece with single hits.
Callahan was backed early when the Corsairs struck first in the bottom of the second. Senior Taylor Cacciola (West Greenwich, R.I.) reached base on a walk and advanced into scoring position on a balk, in time for Sanchez to drive him home on a single to left. In the Huskies' next at-bat, a diving catch by freshman Nate Tellier (Attleboro, Mass.) in center kept the lead intact.
Southern Maine drew even in the fourth, sparked by a leadoff double by Matt Bender (Walpole, Mass.). Back-to-back groundouts completed Bender's trip around the bags.
After a failed steal of home in the fifth, the Corsairs finally broke through in the sixth to edge back ahead. Junior Josh O'Neill (Halifax, Mass.) poked UMass Dartmouth's second hit of the game down the left field line to start, and hustled home from second on an errant Husky throw. Callahan escaped yet another jam with a fly-out in the top of the seventh, stranding runners on the corners.
Aggressive base-running paid off to push across two more runs in the seventh, following Sanchez' leadoff double and a double-steal. Baker then did the honors, cracking a ball over the third baseman's head for two RBIs.
The Huskies rallied immediately, striking twice on a wild pitch and an RBI single by Andrew Olszak (Danvers, Mass.) to begin the eighth and cut back within a run, but Michael continued his clutch tournament play in the Corsairs' at-bat, driving in Sanchez and Ramirez with two outs on his 19th double of the season.
In the ninth, Tellier wrapped his second save of the year despite the Huskies dropping two hits, forcing a groundout to seal the win.
Inside the Numbers
- UMass Dartmouth reaches the LEC Tournament title game for the first time since 2013 and second time in head coach Bob Prince's tenure.
- The Corsairs are seeking their first league title and NCAA Tournament bid since 2000.
- The victory marks the second for the Corsairs over the No. 12-ranked Huskies on the season and their fifth over a nationally-ranked opponent this year.
- With a scoreless 1.1 innings and the save, Tellier still has yet to allow a run this season in 7.2 innings of work.
- Michael draws even with Cory DeMedeiros '15 with 19 RBIs on the season, good for the third-best season total in program history. On the tournament, he is batting .333 with a team-best seven RBIs.
UMass Dartmouth and UMass Boston will meet for the fifth time on the season and third time on the tournament, with the series tied at 2-2. The Corsairs walked off against the Beacons on Friday morning, 8-7, before UMass Boston bounced back for a 10-4 win. The winner of the LEC title game earns the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament regional rounds next weekend.