GORHAM, Maine – Junior Devin Warren (Smithfield, Maine/Messalonskee) used his speed to leg out an infield single (advancing to second on an errant throw), stole third and then beat the tag on a fielder's choice RBI grounder in the bottom of the 10th inning to lead the nationally-ranked University of Southern Maine Huskies to a 4-3 extra inning win over the Babson College Beavers Thursday afternoon at Ed Flaherty Field.
Winning two of its three games against regionally-ranked opponents during the week, including the last two consecutively, Southern Maine is now 18-7 overall. The Huskies, 10-1 in the month of April, are 7-0 at home this season. Ranked third in the latest New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association (NEIBA) poll, Babson is 21-10 with the loss.
Trailing 3-1 after six and a half innings, USM used timely hitting and a solid effort from its relief pitchers to rally for the win. Up 2-1 to start the seventh, Babson extended its lead to two runs on back-to-back doubles from juniors Brian McHale (Ramsey, N.J.) and Edward Lehr (Byram, Township, N.J.). With a still on second, USM junior Henry Curran (South Portland, Maine) entered the game, and got the final out of the inning with a strikeout. Husky freshman Sam Troiano (South Portland, Maine) made it a one-run game in the home half of the seventh launching the first home run of his intercollegiate career over the scoreboard in left field.
Curran bounced back from a pair of hit batsmen to start the top of the eighth as the Huskies perfectly executed a bunt trap to cut down the lead runner for the first out of the inning. With one down, Curran retired the next two hitters on a fly out to center field and his second strikeout of the game. In the bottom of the inning, Warren led off with a single down the left field line, and then took second on a wild pitch. Sophomore Andrew Hillier (Bangor, Maine) moved Warren down to third with deep fly ball to center, before sophomore Andrew Olszak (Danvers, Mass.) collected his 23rd RBI of the season to plate Warren on a fielder's choice grounder to knot up the score at 3-3.
In the ninth, Babson threatened for a run when Lehr stroked his second double of the game with one out, before USM's Jake Dexter took to the mound for Curran. Dexter struck out the first batter he faced before issuing an intentional walk to set up the force play in the infield, and then retired the halted the Beaver threat with another strikeout.
USM freshman Jason Komulainen (Gorham, Maine) led off the bottom of the ninth with a single through the left side, but the Huskies' were unable to touch relief pitcher senior Matt Cuneo (Ahsland, Mass.) for a run as Cuneo cut down the next three USM hitters with a strikeout, and a pair of pop ups, setting up the extra innings.
Dexter was lights out in the top of the tenth, mowing down three Babson batters via the strikeout. With the score still tied at three runs each, Babson sophomore Michael Nocchi (Manasquan, N.J.) got the first out of the inning before Warren's infield single, a Babson throwing error, and a stolen base put him at third. With just one out off the board, Hillier drove in the winning run with a grounder towards second, and Warren slid under the tag for the 4-3 final.
Warren, Hillier and Troiano each had two hits for the Huskies, who touched up the five Babson pitchers in the game for 11 hits. Troiano and junior Zach Quintal (Eliot, Maine) each had a home run. Babson's Lehr had three of the Beavers' eight hits in the game, including a pair of doubles. Sophomore Jake Oliger (Newton, Conn.) had a two-run double for Babson.
Dexter (3-2) earned the win on the mound for USM. The fourth Husky pitcher used in the lineup, Dexter pitched 1.2 innings of scoreless and hitless relief, striking out five with one intentional walk. Starter freshman James Sinclair (Portland, Maine) allowed two earned runs in 5.1 innings on five hits and two walks while striking out four. Sophomore Colton Lawrence (Farmington, Maine) pitched 1.1 innings, allowing one earned run, while Curran pitched 1.2 innings with a pair of strikeouts.
Nocchi took the loss for Babson in 0.1 innings of work, giving up one hit. Freshman Alex Luka (Downers Grove, Ill.) had a solid outing making the start for Babson, allowing two earned runs on seven hits and a walk in 6.1 innings.
Southern Maine returns to action on Saturday (12:00 p.m.). The Huskies will host Little East Conference opponent Plymouth State University in a doubleheader.
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