PSC falls twice to USM in 9th

MANSFIELD, Conn. - Plymouth State College's hard-luck baseball season continued Saturday when the Panthers dropped a pair of games in the bottom of the ninth inning to Little East Conference powerhouse University of Southern Maine, 10-6 and 7-6.

The games, scheduled to be played at USM, were moved to Eastern Connecticut State University because of wet field conditions in Northern New England. The outcomes leaves PSC with a seven-game losing streak and dropping the Panthers to 2-15 overall and 1-6 in the LEC, while USM is now 15-5 overall and 4-0 in the LEC.

Sophomore Andy Lang provided the dramatic blast for USM in the opener, cracking a game-winning grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Huskies overcame a 6-4 deficit with two runs in the seventh inning and the four in the ninth. Lang's blast came off PSC sophomore Jason Egan (Sharon, Mass.), who pitched two innings (3 hits, 4 runs, 3 earned) in relief of junior starter Nate Provencher (Wilton, N.H.).

PSC pounded out 11 hits in the opener, including two apiece from senior Dakota Smith (Rochester, N.H.) and sophomores Matt Price (Epping, N.H.), Jay Zinis (Manchester, N.H.), Scott Hodsdon (Somersworth, N.H.) and Rob Burr (Concord, N.H.). Zinis hit his first home run of the season, Smith added a triple and an RBI, and sophomore Matt Salokangas (New Ipswich, N.H.) had a double and an RBI.

The Panthers took a 6-2 lead into the bottom of the eighth in the nightcap, but the Huskies rallied with a pair in the eighth and three more in the ninth to win it. PSC starter Jeff Morgan (Laconia, N.H.) went eight innings (8 hits, 5 runs, 5 earned), striking out a career-high 13 batters. Junior Kevin Locke (Pike, N.H.) came on in the ninth but couldn't close out the game, suffering the loss (0-4). Junior Craig Gurekis had the game-winning hit for USM.

Price led the Panther hitters in the second game with a pair of doubles and three RBI. Smith and Salokangas hit solo home runs for PSC, the first of the season for each. PSC's next scheduled game is Wednesday (Apr. 18) at Dartmouth College (3 p.m.).