GORHAM, Maine - Plymouth State College freshmen Nate Provencher (Wilton, NH) and Jeff Morgan (Laconia, NH) combined to limit the University of Southern Maine to one run on eight hits in Saturday's second game of a Little East Conference baseball doubleheader, giving the Panthers a split of the twinbill and clinching a bye in next week's LEC Tourney.
The first-place Huskies captured the opener, 13-1, in a game in which PSC ace Ben DuBois (Franklin, NH) suffered an elbow injury, but the Panthers rebounded to capture the nightcap, 4-1, behind the freshman duo.
The victory assures Plymouth State of third place in the LEC regular season race with a 9-5 conference mark, 19-16-1 overall. PSC receives a bye in Tuesday's LEC first-round games, and will meet fourth-place UMass Dartmouth on Thursday in Game Three of the LEC double-elimination tourney.
Southern Maine, 12-2 in the LEC and 29-11 overall, has clinched at least a tie for the LEC regular season title. The Huskies, which will also receive a bye on Tuesday, must wait until the conclusion of Sunday's Eastern Connecticut-Rhode Island College game to see if they will be the first or second seed in the LEC Tournament. Eastern Connecticut could share the title and win the top seed in the tourney with a win Sunday at RIC.
DuBois was sailing along in Saturday's opener, spinning a three-hit shutout through five innings and holding a 1-0 lead. But the righthander felt a pop in his elbow on a pitch to the second batter in the sixth inning, and couldn't throw another pitch. The Huskies jumped all over DuBois' replacement, freshman Jim Arguimbau (Sharon, MA), with six runs in both the sixth and eighth innings and won going away, 13-1.
With the ace on the sidelines, PSC looked to Provencher and Morgan to do the job in the nightcap. A Panther loss could've knocked the Panthers all the way to fifth place in the LEC, but the freshmen duo came through. Provencher started and went four-plus innings, allowing one run on five hits and a walk while striking out two. Morgan came on and went the rest of the way to pick up his sixth win (6-2), working five shutout innings of three-hit, no-walk baseball, striking out two.
The Panthers got all the runs they would need in the first inning. Todd Steffanides (Fitchburg, MA) and Jim Freda (Windham, NH) led off with singles, and after a sacrifice bunt by Dakota Smith (Rochester, NH), Corey Mastin (Newmarket, NH) drove in one run with a single and Mike Bence (Warwick, RI) knocked in two more with a double.
PSC added a fourth run in the third inning when Freda singled, went to third on a double by Smith, and scored on an infield grounder by Mastin.
-- 30 --