#3 USM Sweeps Plymouth State to Clinch LEC Regular Season Title
GORHAM, Maine -- The third-ranked University of Southern Maine baseball team clinched the Little East Conference regular-season title and the top seed in next week's championship tournament by sweeping visiting Plymouth State University, 10-3 and 17-5 (7 innings), Saturday afternoon at Ed Flaherty Field.
The sweep extended the Huskies' winning streak to 10 games, and improved their record to 31-5 overall and 14-2 in LEC play. The Panthers drop to 14-22 overall and 5-11 in conference play.
The Huskies erupted for six runs in the home half of the eighth inning to break up a 4-3 game and make a winner of undefeated junior right-hander Ben Lambert (Saco, Maine/Thornton Academy) for the eighth time this season. Senior Zach Quintal (Eliot, Maine/Marshwood) had a big game at the plate going 4-for-5, including a bases-loaded triple in the big eighth inning, with five RBI.
The sides traded two-run rallies in the first inning. PSU senior Josh Goulet (Nashua, N.H.) hit his 13th home run of the season with a man aboard off Lambert to stake the visitors to a 2-0 lead. The Huskies came right back to pick up runs on back-to-back RBI singles from senior Devin Warren (Smithfield, Maine/Messalonskee) and Quintal.
USM took the lead with two runs in the third on a Quintal RBI single, and Warren scored from third on a wild pitch.
Goulet, who went 3-for-4 in the opener, scored a run in the sixth on a two-out infield error to pull the Panthers within one.
The Huskies put the game away in the eighth scoring six times, highlighted by as RBI triple from junior Andrew Olsazk (Danvers, Mass.) and Quintal's bases-clearing triple.
Lambert worked 6.2 innings allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits and one walk while striking out seven. Seniors Henry Curran (South Portland, Maine) and Jake Dexter (Oakland, Maine) came on to close the door.
PSU senior starting pitcher Dylan Gaita (Melrose, Mass.) was the tough luck loser after giving up four runs (two earned) on nine hits and four walks while striking out four in six-plus innings.
Southern Maine jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first inning, fueled by a two-run homer from junior Andrew Hillier (Bangor, Maine) and a three-run shot from senior Devin Warren (Smithfield, Maine/Messalonskee). Hillier finished his work going 2-for-4 with two runs scored and four RBI, and Dexter was 3-for-4 with four runs scored and two RBI.
The Huskies added two runs in the second, and two more in the third on Dexter's two-run shot, to extended their lead to 10-1. The Huskies matched their first-inning output scoring six more runs in the fourth to make it 16-1. Hillier drove in the first two runs in the fourth with a single, and the Huskies benefited from two PSU miscues.
Junior right-hander Gage Feeney (Cutler, Maine/Washington Academy) was the beneficiary of the Huskies' offensive barrage earning his sixth win of the season. Feeney allowed just one run on two hits over five innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out seven.
Goulet had a bases-loaded double in the seventh to bring in three runs for the Panthers. Senior starter Cam Cossette (Milford, Mass.) took the loss going one-plus inning.
Southern Maine will conclude the regular season on Sunday (1 p.m.) hosting Tufts University for a non-conference. Prior to the game, USM will honor its seven seniors playing their final regular-season home game. Plymouth State will finish the regular season tomorrow afternoon (3 p.m.) playing at Bowdoin College.