1991 & 1997 NCAA Division III National Champions

#11 Wheaton Downs #17 Southern Maine 6-1

Freshman Sam Dexter had a single and made some sharp plays in the field for the Huskies against Wheaton on Sunday.
Freshman Sam Dexter had a single and made some sharp plays in the field for the Huskies against Wheaton on Sunday.

Wheaton Downs Southern Maine 6-1

            GORHAM, Maine -- Seniors Eric Jensen (Gorham, N.H.) and Sean Ryan (Norton, Mass.) each drove in three runs as the #11 Wheaton College Lyons used some timely hitting and strong pitching from four hurlers to defeat the #17 University of Southern Maine Huskies, 6-1, in a battle of nationally ranked teams Sunday afternoon at the USM Baseball Stadium.

            The win gave the Lyons a split of the teams home-and-home season series and improved their overall record to 23-8.  The Huskies, who beat the Lyons 15-3 at Wheaton on Thursday, had their 19-game winning streak snapped and fall to 25-4 overall.

            Jensen and Ryan each came up with key two-out, two-run singles in the Lyons' four-run eighth inning that broke the game open.  Jensen picked up an RBI in the first inning with a groundout, and Ryan had an RBI double in the seventh inning that snapped a 1-1 tie.

            Sophomore right-hander Mike Gibbons (Simsbury, Conn.) earned his third win of the season for Wheaton going six-plus innings and holding the Huskies' potent offense to just one run on three hits and two walks while fanning two.  Freshman Eric Dumas (Brookline, Mass.), sophomore Mike Bisceglia (New Boston, N.H.) and junior Ryan Grant (Easton, Mass.) combined to pitch three shutout innings off relief.

            The four Wheaton pitchers combined to hold USM's offense, which came into the game with a .353 team batting average and averaging 10.4 runs, to just four hits and three walks.  Junior Matt Verrier (Norway, Maine/Oxford Hills), who had a single and a double, was the USM player with multiple hits.  Junior left-hander Luke Hammond (Rangeley, Maine/Deering), the fourth of nine USM pitchers used, was tagged with his second loss of the season against no wins.

            Wheaton took a 1-0 lead in the opening inning as freshman Matt Lavanchy (Walpole, Mass.) tripled down the right field line and scored on Jensen's groundout to shortstop.

            The Huskies scratched out their lone run in the fifth as senior John Carey (South Portland, Maine) worked a leadoff walk from Gibbons and advanced to second on Verrier's single.  Both runners moved up on a sacrifice bunt from junior Troy Thibodeau (Danvers, Mass./New Hampton).  Carey scored on a groundout by senior Anthony Pisani (Cheshire, Conn./Notre Dame).

            Jensen scored what proved to be the game-winning run in the seventh as he walked and scored on Ryan's double to center field.

            The Lyons put the game away in the eighth scoring four times on three hits, a sacrifice and two walks.  The Lyons loaded the bases with one out, but Lavanchy hit into a force play at the plate for the second out.  Jensen then lined a single off sophomore Andrew Richards (South Portland, Maine) into center field to score freshman pinch hitter Mike Beneduce (North Kingstown, R.I.) and pinch runner Justin Connor (Arlington, Mass.).  Ryan followed with his two-single to center to make it 6-1.

            Southern Maine put two runners on board in the home half of the eighth, but Bisceglia was able to get seniors Tucker White (Deerfield, N.H./Coe-Brown Northwood) and Nick Grady (Whitefield, Maine/Erskine Academy) to fly out to right field to end the inning.  Grady finished the day 0-for-4 snapping his career best 25-game hitting streak.

            Southern Maine is back in action on Tuesday (3:30 p.m.) when it hosts the University of Massachusetts Boston in a Little East Conference game.  Wheaton will play a rescheduled doubleheader tomorrow (1:00 p.m.) at home against M.I.T.

-ble-