Baseball Earns Split With Southern Maine 5-4, 2-9

April 10, 2010

NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA-The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's baseball team left the diamond Saturday afternoon saying the exact same thing as visiting Southern Maine: "We could've won both." But each team took advantage of the other team's missed opportunities, causing a split doubleheader in a Little East Conference play at the UMass Dartmouth Athletic Complex, 5-4, 2-9.

The Corsairs took the opener in dramatic fashion, as junior designated hitter Matt Ryan (Uxbridge, Mass./Uxbridge HS) slowly rolled a two RBI, go-ahead single through the left side of the infield to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 lead with two out in the bottom of the eighth. Ryan's game-winning hit was made possible moments earlier by an error by Huskies' third baseman Nick Grady (Whitefield, Maine/Erskine HS) off the bat of junior catcher Zak Talis (Lynnfield, Mass./Lynnfield HS) which extended the inning. During Ryan's at-bat, both junior shortstop Ryan McDermott (Pembroke, Mass./Pembroke HS) and Talis advanced to second and third, respectively, on a wild pitch which allowed both runners to score on a single.

Prior to the breakthrough eighth inning, the Corsairs had been struggling to put runners on base against Southern Maine's ace, senior lefthander Collin Henry (Penobscot, Maine/George Stevens Academy), who was dominant for most of the afternoon. Henry held the Corsair lineup both scoreless and hitless in innings four through seven, and retired ten straight batters through the middle innings. Henry (3-2) took the loss despite pitching an eight inning complete game.

"We came to play the whole thing," said UMass Dartmouth Head Coach Bob Curran. "Even if we were to have lost 4-3, it was a very good baseball game."

By stranding only five runners all game, the Corsairs were able to win despite being outhit 10-5. Four of UMass Dartmouth's five runs came with two outs. The Corsairs had to answer three separate one-run deficits of 1-0, 2-1, and 4-3. In addition to the game-winning single, Ryan also homered to begin the Corsairs' scoring and tie the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the second. In the third, the Corsairs flipped the 2-1 deficit into a brief 3-2 lead when senior centerfielder Jeff Macchi (Franklin, Mass./Franklin HS) and Talis pounded out back-to-back RBI singles with two outs.

Corsair pitching kept the game close all throughout, leaving open the possibility of a late comeback. Freshman starter Karney Boff (Dighton, Mass./Dighton-Rehoboth HS) had his second impressive Little East start in as many weeks, surrendering just four runs and nine hits to a strong lineup over the course of six full innings. Boff received a no-decision for his efforts, having left while trailing 4-3.

Sophomore reliever Pat Lavey (2-1) took the win in relief after holding the Huskies scoreless in the seventh and the eighth, allowing just one hit and notching a strikeout. Junior Brian Pedrotti (Dalton, Mass./Wahconah Regional HS) retired the side in order in the ninth to earn his third save of the season.

Curran credited the pitching with the opportunity to win. "Our starting pitcher kept them to one run an inning," Curran said. "He didn't give them a big inning. We made the plays in the field to keep them out of a big inning and keep us in the game into the late innings. Lavey comes in and shuts the door for the seventh and eighth inning. We got the big hits in the bottom of the eighth., and Pedrotti gets the save in the ninth. Very good all around."

While the Corsairs took advantage of Southern Maine miscues in the first game, the inverse held true in the nightcap, won 9-2 by the Huskies. Southern Maine opened up its lead thanks in large part to three, third inning errors which opened the door to three runs and a 5-1 lead. The Corsairs made four errors in the nightcap, all of which came in the first three innings.

Three of the first five runs were unearned, and the Corsairs trailed 6-1 midway through the fourth inning. Freshman starting pitcher Nick Fuller (0-1) did not see the end of that fourth inning, as he was lifted after three and a third innings, having allowed six runs (three earned) on seven hits.

Despite the lopsided final score, the Corsairs had several opportunities to have big innings, none better than the bottom of the second while trailing 2-0. After a leadoff single by Ryan, senior left fielder Tom LaDore (Milford, Conn./Foran HS) stroked an RBI double to draw the Corsairs within a run. After a single and a walk, the Corsairs had the bases loaded with no outs, but the Corsairs failed to score after back-to-back strikeouts and a fly out killed the rally.

The Corsairs had similar opportunities in the fourth, sixth, and seventh innings, but left runners aboard at first and third each time. The Corsairs had at least one hit in each of the first seven innings, and 11 total hits. But the Corsairs lacked the timely hitting they had in the first game, and stranded ten runners over those seven innings. The Corsairs went just 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position in the nightcap, and left multiple runners on base four times.

"We were flat, and kind of lost our emotion after winning the first game," Curran said. "We let them get up on us instead of playing what could have been a better game. We could have made it a nice day with a sweep, but we never gave ourselves a chance."

The win went to Southern Maine junior starter Nick Hahn (Guilford, Conn./Guilford HS), who improves to 2-2 with the victory. Although Hahn barely survived the second inning, five key strikeouts kept him in the game long enough to register the minimum five innings needed for decision eligibility. Hahn left a 6-2 lead to junior righthander Ben Ives, who threw four innings of scoreless relief without walking a batter. Typically a starter, Ives recorded a rare save by virtue of his four innings pitched. Corsair senior pitcher Adam Gustafson mopped up admirably (Dighton, Mass./Dighton-Rehoboth HS), holding Southern Maine to three runs on six hits over five and two thirds innings of work.

The second and final Corsair run came on a solo blast by Talis in the fifth inning. The homer, coupled with an RBI single in the first game, brings Talis to the 40 RBI plateau.

UMass Dartmouth is now 12-6 and 3-1 in the Little East Conference, while Southern Maine is now 11-8 and 1-3. The Corsairs will return to action when they host Rhode Island College in a Little East Conference game Saturday. The Huskies will visit Wheaton Sunday.

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