MANSFIELD, Conn. -- The fourth-seeded Keene State College Owls jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first two innings and never looked back en route to a 9-3 victory over the fifth-seeded University of Southern Maine Huskies Thursday evening in Game Six of the 2011 Little East Conference Championship Tournament at the ECSU Baseball Stadium.
The win moves the Owls (29-12) into a winners' bracket game Friday (12:00 p.m.) against sixth-seeded Rhode Island College. RIC defeated second-seeded and defending tournament champion, the University of Massachusetts Boston, 2-1, in Game Five to eliminate UMB.
Southern Maine (22-18) falls into the losers bracket and will face top-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University in an elimination game Friday afternoon (3:30 p.m.). Eastern Connecticut defeated third-seeded University of Massachusetts Dartmouth 9-4 in Game Four to knock UMD out of the six-team, double-elimination tournament.
Junior Erik Bergstrom (Enfield, Conn.) paced the Owls' 12-hit attack with three hits, including a double, and scored two runs. Sophomore Greg Bates (Salem, N.H.), senior Tyler DiPrato (Suffield, Conn.), and juniors Juan Bisono (New Britain, Conn.) and Kyle Morrill (Auburn, N.H.) each had two hits. Undefeated junior Jeff Pelkey (Fitzwilliam, N.H.) picked up his seventh win against no losses pitching five innings.
For the Huskies, junior Anthony Pisani (Cheshire, Conn.) had three hits. Freshman Forrest Chadwick (Gardiner, Maine) and senior Mike Eaton (Sabbatus, Maine/Oak Hill) each had a double and a single, and sophomore Tucker White (Deerfield, N.H./Coe-Brown Northwood) and senior Josh Mackey (Danvers, Mass.) had two hits apiece. Junior starting pitcher Dustin Stanton (Cornish, Maine/Sacopee Valley), the first of six USM hurlers, suffered the loss.
The Owls scored three times in the first inning on RBI doubles by DiPrato and Bergstrom, and Bisono's RBI single. The Owls made it 5-0 in the second inning as Morrill tripled and came home on Bates' sacrifice fly. Senior Bobby Doyon (Keene, N.H.) followed by hitting a solo home run.
Southern Maine got one back in the third when Chadwick doubled with one out and came home on Eaton's two-out single.
Keene State put the game away with an unearned run in the fourth, and three runs in the fifth to make it 9-1. Keene batted around in the fifth.
The Huskies scored an unearned run in the sixth as White scored on an infield error. They added a single run in the seventh when Chadwick singled, move to second on a Pisani single, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Eaton's ground out.