GORHAM, Maine - It was a case of good news-bad news for Plymouth State College Friday at the Little East Conference Baseball Tournament at Towers Field.
The good news came in the middle game of the day, when fifth-seeded PSC knocked off third-seeded University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 11-3, eliminating the Corsairs and earning Panther head coach Dennis McManus his 300th career victory.
The bad news came in the final game of the afternoon, when PSC was knocked out of the double elimination tourney with a 16-1 loss to second-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University. The Panthers, who won 10 of their last 13 games, finish the season at 17-21 overall.
"I told the players to remember how we finished the season over the last few weeks, not how we finished in the final game," said McManus, who is 300-288-3 in 17 years at PSC. "I'm very pleased with how we were playing at the end of the season. A lot of players could have quit back when we were 2-15, but they didn't, and that showed with the way we played down the stretch."
ECSU, 33-11, advances to Saturday's championship round, when they will face top-seeded University of Southern Maine, 32-9, beginning at 12 noon. USM defeated Eastern Connecticut in the first game of the day, 6-3.
The Panthers jumped on UMD with nine runs in the first three innings, and coasting to the victory. Senior Dakota Smith (Rochester, N.H.) and sophomores Scott Hodsdon (Somersworth, N.H.) and Matt Price (Epping, N.H.) all had three hits in the game. Smith finished the contest with a career-high six RBI, thanks to a two-run single in the second, a three-run home run in the third and a run-scoring double in the eighth. Junior Jon Albertini (Franklin, Mass.), sophomore Jason Morgan (Laconia, N.H.) and freshman Brandon Stocker (Sunapee, N.H.) also had two hits apiece as PSC battered UMD pitchers for 16 hits.
Sophomore Jonathan Rich (Londonderry, N.H.) earned the win (2-1) in relief for PSC, working six innings and allowing seven hits and two runs and striking out four.
PSC junior Nate Provencher (Wilton, N.H.) had the unique experience of starting consecutive games for PSC. He left the first game after three innings with a 9-1 lead, allowing him to start the second game. Provencher departed after four innings and six runs against ECSU, and took the loss (1-5).
Eastern Connecticut scored in seven of the nine innings against PSC to win going away. The Panthers hurt themselves in the field, committing nine errors. The PSC bats went silent as well, getting only six hits off ECSU's Bryan DePaulo, two by sophomore Matt Salokangas (New Ipswich, N.H.).
The Panthers finish the season with a .308 team batting average, with six regulars hitting over .300. Hodsdon led the way at .362, followed by Price at .359, Smith at .342, sophomore Rob Burr (Concord, N.H.) at .341, Salokangas at .333, and sophomore Jay Zinis (Manchester, N.H.) at .309. Burr led the team with five home runs and 35 RBI.