Southern Maine Sweeps Western Connecticut 16-2 (7) and 9-6
NEW BRITAIN, Conn. -- The University of Southern Maine baseball team extended its winning streak to six games Sunday by sweeping Little East Conference foe Western Connecticut State University 16-2 in seven innings and 9-6. The doubleheader was played Central Connecticut State University due to unplayable field conditions at Western's home field in Danbury, Conn.
With their six-game winning streak, the Huskies improved to 13-7 overall and are unbeaten in conference play at 4-0. The double dip dropped the Colonials back to .500 at 10-10 overall, and 1-3 in the conference.
In the opener, the Huskies pounded out a season-high 27 hits, including 24 singles, off four Colonial hurlers. Sophomore Jake Dexter (Oakland, Maine/Messalonskee) paced the attack going 5 for 5 as every member of the Huskies' had least one hit. In the nightcap, sophomore Devin Warren (Smithfield, Maine/Messalonskee) was 2 for 3, including a clutch two-run home run in the ninth inning, with five RBI.
The Huskies put the game away early sending 13 men to the plate in the second inning en route to scoring nine runs. Warren forced in the first run with a bases loaded walk, and two batters later, sophomore Zach Quintal (Eliot, Maine/Marshwood) followed with a two-run single to make it 3-0. The next six batters drove in a run with five singles and a sacrifice fly.
The teams traded two-run innings in the third to make it 11-2 before the Huskies brought the 10-run rule into play with three more runs in the fourth. Rookie Andrew Olszak (Danvers, Mass.) drove in two with a double, and Quintal followed with an RBI single.
Sophomore right-hander Jack Donnelly (Walpole, Mass.) was the beneficiary of the Huskies offensive outburst. Donnelly, 2-1 on the season, gave up two runs on six hits without walking a batter while striking out two in six innings of work.
The Huskies were cruising along in the nightcap building a 6-0 lead before the Colonials rallied for five runs in the fifth inning to make thing interesting. The Huskies continued to cling to the lead before Warren's two-run homer in the top of the ninth gave them some breathing room.
USM jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the third inning ignited by a two-run homer from senior Matt Bender (Walpole, Mass.), an RBI single from Dexter and a two-run single by Warren.
Warren drove in his third run of the game with a sacrifice fly in the fifth to make it 6-0 before the Colonials' bats erupted.
WestConn rallied for five runs against USM rookie starting pitcher Gage Feeney (Cutler, Maine/Washington Academy). Junior Joe Daigle (Southington, Conn.) got the rally started with an RBI double. Senior Frank Vartuli (Westport, Conn./Staples) had a two-run single, and a single by junior Zach Sagar (Trumbull, Conn.) ended Feeney's day. Rookie Zach Piroh (Stratford, Conn./Bunnell) greeted USM junior reliever Zack Bean (Westbrook, Maine) with a two-run single to get the Colonials within one before Bean was able to record the final out of the inning.
Southern Maine picked up an unearned run in the seventh, and the Colonials matched that with a run in the eighth to make it 7-6 heading into the ninth inning.
A one-out double by McDonough put a runner in scoring position. After the second out, Warren hit his two-run homer down the left-field line to give the Huskies some important insurance runs.
Warren, Dexter and McDonough all had two hits in the nightcap. Dexter would get the win going 3 2/3 innings in relief allowing just the one run on one hit and one walk. Dexter struck out seven.
For the Colonials, Senior Tre' Gause (Brookfield, Conn.) went 3 for 3 with two runs scored, and Sagar had a pair of singles. Vartuli and Piroh each had two RBI. WC sophomore starting pitcher Erik Nicholson (Old Lyme, Conn./Lyme-Old Lyme), who lasted just 2 2/3 innings, was tagged with his first loss against one win.
Southern Maine is scheduled to host Colby College on Wednesday (4:00 p.m.) at the USM Baseball Stadium. Western Connecticut will travel to Purchase (N.Y.) State on Thursday (3:30 p.m.).