KEENE, N.H. – Keene State staged a tremendous comeback to upend the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in game one, but the Corsairs would have the last laugh in the night cap of the Little East Conference twin bill by scoring seven in the ninth to wrap up the 2018 regular season on a high note by seizing the necessary victory. Senior Kenny Michael (Norwood, Mass.) finished with a game-high four RBI in the opening contest, while sophomore Nate Tellier (Attleboro, Mass.) set career-highs in hits and RBI (four apiece) in the come-from-behind game two triumph.
Score: Owls 11, Corsairs 10 (Game One) | Corsairs 9, Owls 2 (Game Two)
Records: UMass Dartmouth 23-13, 5-9 LEC | Keene State 15-19, 5-9 LEC
How it Happened
Game One: Keene State 11, UMass Dartmouth 10
The Owls would plate a run in the second without putting a bat on the ball, working a total of four walks in the inning with junior John Tarascio (Wethersfield, Conn.) working the bases-loaded base on balls for the RBI. Each offense would remain quiet through the first three innings, as neither could pick up a hit until the top-half of the fourth.
UMass Dartmouth's rally began with sophomore Mitch Baker (Braintree, Mass.) as he uncorked on a 1-0 delivery to deposit a solo homer over the left field wall. Later, Owl third baseman Abe Grainger (Bedford, Mass.) committed a two-out error on junior Pat Vartanian's (Canton, Mass.) hard ground ball to the hot corner, permitting the inning to proceed. Michael made the hosts pay by smashing a double to the right-centerfield gap to break the tie for a 3-1 Corsair advantage. Starter Ben Lodge (Blackstone, Mass.) did a terrific job of getting the Blue and Gold right back in the dugout to maintain the momentum, working a ten-pitch bottom half of the fourth.
In the sixth, sophomore Mike Knell (Dennis, Mass.) drilled his team-leading fifth dinger to extend the lead to 4-1. The homeruns did not stop there, as Michael stayed hot by tattooing a two-run shot off of newly-inserted reliever Andrew Houde (Springfield, N.H.). Junior Erick Ramirez (Boston, Mass.) was not to be left out from the club, making it back-to-back round-trippers to make it a six-run differential on the Corsairs' way to batting around in the inning.
Keene State would stage a big-time comeback in the home portion of the seventh inning, stringing together hit after hit to overcome the seven-run hole by taking an 11-8 lead. UMass Dartmouth narrowed the gap to just one with runners on first and second in the ninth, but the hosts escaped the jam by grounding out junior Chris Wood (Berkley, Mass.) for the final out to prolong Keene's postseason hopes.
Game Two: UMass Dartmouth 9, Keene State 2
The winner of the contest would clinch a postseason berth while the other would head home. Keene crossed the plate twice in the second via two straight doubles by the seven- and eight-hitters Connor Longley (Foxboro, Mass.) and David Sevigny (Rocky Hill, Conn.). With runners on first and second in the fifth and no out down, the Corsairs could not cash in on what looked like a promising opportunity as freshman righty Isaac Keehn (Norwalk, Conn.) worked into and out of trouble. In the bottom half, starter Matt Cronin (Framingham, Mass.) grounded sophomore Connor Walsh (Goffstown, N.H.) into an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play.
With the bases loaded in the seventh, UMass Dartmouth could not find the big hit despite working Keehn's pitch count up to 128, keeping the Corsairs scoreless. Cronin would pitch one out into the seventh, exiting with runners on first and second to make way for southpaw Mac Curran (Lakeville, Mass.). The lefty would preserve the game right where it stood by retiring the next two hitters via pop out and groundout.
Senior Josh O'Neil (Halifax, Mass.) singled through the right side in the eighth to follow up Ramirez's leadoff walk, queuing up runners on the corner for top-RBI man Tellier. The sophomore came through with a huge double to the gap to clear the bases and tie the ballgame, sending the Corsair dugout into a frenzy. Owl reliever Ryan Silwinski (Sherborn, Mass.) would limit the damage, stranding the bases loaded.
Vartanian led off the ninth with a rip down the third baseline and into the corner for a double. With two aboard; Johnson was called on to pitch against the nine-hitter. O'Neil laid down a perfect bunt, rolling it just past the pitcher towards the 5.5 hole for a single to load the bases with no outs. Tellier would come through once again, this time with a single to left to take a 4-2 lead. After O'Neil scored on a wild pitch, UMass Dartmouth blew the game open on Knell's two-run base-hit to provide a five-run cushion. A new pitcher entered for Keene however the Corsairs saw the same results, this time via a Ramirez 2-RBI double for a 9-2 score.
Curran remained on the rubber for the final three outs, making the bus trip back to Dartmouth that much shorter by putting the finishing touches on the needed victory.
Inside the Numbers
- Game One:
- Despite having to exit the contest after five innings due to injury, junior Jose Vasquez (Roxbury, Mass.) was still able to pick up a base-hit in one of his two at-bats to extend his hitting streak to 13 – the best by any Corsair this season. The next longest belongs to Tellier, who accomplished nine straight earlier this year.
- All starting nine Owls crossed the plate.
- Freshman reliever Logan Maitland (Tiverton, R.I.) worked out of the seventh inning jam and then completed a quiet eighth for two shutout innings, yielding a lone hit while striking out four.
- Vasquez adds to his reached base streak to 22 straight.
- The Corsairs entered the contest with a 15-1 record when leading after six.
- Furthermore, UMass Dartmouth had been 7-0 when scoring 10+ runs.
- Keene State stranded nine on base to the Corsairs' 10.
- Michael picked up his fourth three-hit game of the year for his eighth multi-hit performance of 2018.
- With a pair of hits, Ramirez secured his 15th multi-hit affair.
- Vartanian scored a season- and career-high thrice.
- Game Two:
- Tellier picked up his team-leading 16th multi-hit game of the season. It was his first four-hit game while also tallying a new personal-best RBI total with four.
- On the same note, Baker clinched his 15th such outing.
- With ten runs on the season in the ninth, the Blue and Gold nearly doubled their run total in the final frame this afternoon, coming through with a seven-spot.
- Curran improves his record to 3-0, the most wins on the pitching staff among those to have not suffered a loss. Hurlers Ryan Britton (Milford, N.H.) and Zack DelVecchio (Braintree, Mass.) trail close behind with 2-0 slates on the year.
- The southpaw two-way player tossed 31 pitches across 2.2 innings of work, locating 22 for strikes. He was perfect in the high-magnitude contest, putting zeroes in the hit, run, and walk columns.
- Tellier wraps up his sophomore season in the top-two of nearly every offensive category for the Corsairs, including batting average (.378), slugging percentage (.568), on-base percentage (.463), runs scored (31), hits (56), RBI (34), doubles (10), triples (3), homeruns (4), total bases (84), and walks (22).
The 2018 Little East Conference tournament pairings and bracket will be released on Saturday evening. Stay tuned to littleeast.com for the latest updates regarding the postseason schedule.