Panthers fall to USM in LEC Baseball Tourney

GORHAM, Maine - Senior Jason Dority (Winterport, Maine) cracked a three-run double to highlight a four-run first inning, and top-seeded University of Southern Maine went on to capture a 7-3 victory over fifth-seeded Plymouth State College Thursday at Towers Field in Game #4 of the Little East Conference Baseball Tournament.

The Huskies, 31-9, advance to a 9:30 a.m. contest Friday against second-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University, 32-10. PSC, 16-20, had its six-game winning streak snapped, and moves on to a loser's bracket contest of the double elimination tourney. The Panthers will play Friday at 12:30 p.m. against third-seeded University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 23-15, which lost to ECSU in Thursday's first game, 4-3.

Southern Maine did all the first-inning damage with two outs off PSC starter Kevin Locke (Pike, N.H.) With Pat Toomey (Medford, Mass) on third, Jody Curcuru walked and Brian Marshall singled home Toomey. Andy Lang then walked to load the bases, and Dority hit a gapper to right center to score three runs.

The Panthers battled back with all three of their runs in the third inning, as junior Jon Albertini (Franklin, Mass.) and sophomore Scott Hodsdon (Somersworth, N.H.) started the rally with back-to-back singles. Senior Dakota Smith (Rochester, N.H.) drove in one run with a double to right, and sophomore Matt Price (Epping, N.H.) followed with a double to drive in two more.

With its lead cut to 4-3, USM responded with two unearned runs with two outs in the bottom of the third. A walk by Lang and a double by Dority put runners at second and third, and Locke appeared to be out of the inning, but a PSC infield throwing error allowed both runners to score.

The Huskies added an insurance run in the sixth on an RBI double by senior Shaun Richardson.

Locke took the loss (4-5) after working six innings. Senior Arlan Freeman (Portland, Maine) came on and finished up with two scoreless innings of relief. USM ace Mark Russell earned the win (5-1), pitching into the seventh inning and getting help from three relievers.

It was PSC's third loss to USM this season; the Panthers were defeated 7-6 and 10-6 in Mansfield, Conn., on Apr. 14th, with both games decided in the ninth inning. The Panthers will be facing a UMD team Friday that swept them earlier this year, 11-4 and 14-9 on Apr. 7th in North Dartmouth, Mass.