PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Plymouth State College and Western Connecticut State University split a Little East Conference baseball doubleheader Saturday at Panther Park, with each team winning a game with a ninth-inning rally and pulling out the verdict in its final at bat.
Plymouth State overcame a 6-0 deficit in the opener to pull out a 7-6 decision in 10 innings. PSC forced the extra frames with a two-out two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to cap a furious rally. Western Connecticut returned the favor in the nightcap, scoring three times in the ninth inning to overcome a 1-0 deficit and earn the split with a 3-1 victory.
The outcome gives PSC a 14-17-1 overall record and a 3-8-1 mark in LEC games. Western is now 13-18 overall and 7-5 in the conference.
Game 1 was scoreless through five innings, as Western starter Carl Rivers (Morris, Conn.) and PSC starter Nate Provencher (Wilton, N.H.) matched each other pitch for pitch until WCSU erupted for six runs in the sixth inning. Junior Chris Sudano (New Fairfield, Conn.) led off the inning with his fifth home run of the season. Senior Chris Miller (Wappingers Falls, N.Y.) brought home a run with a sacrifice fly, sophomore Jon Lynch (Glastonbury, Conn.) drove home two more with an RBI triple, and junior Jay Sharkey (Waterbury, Conn.) and sophomore Ian Reilly (Bronx, N.Y.) added RBI singles to give WCSU a six-run cushion.
PSC came back with two runs in the seventh inning when junior Robbie Burr (Concord, N.H.) singled, classmate Matt Price (Epping, N.H.) followed with a double, and junior Sy Tebbetts (Hollis, N.H.) and freshman Derek Guimond (Lewiston, Maine) provided RBI singles.
Burr brought PSC a run closer in the eighth inning with a run-scoring single, and then provided the dramatics in the last of the ninth. After junior Jay Zinis (Manchester, N.H./West) drove in PSC's first run with a two-out double, Burr clouted a game-tying, two-run blast to right, his eighth of the season. The Panthers then pulled the game out in the 10th when pinch hitter Jay Morgan (Laconia, N.H.) walked, was sacrificed to second by Tebbetts, and came home with the winning run on a double to center by Guimond. Freshman lefty Dan Dixon (Limington, Maine) earned the win, working four strong innings of scoreless baseball out of the Panther bullpen.
Game 2 was a pitcher's duel between PSC senior Jeff Morgan (Laconia, N.H.) and WCSU senior Greg Palanzo (Danbury, Conn.). Morgan took a shutout into the ninth inning, but took the loss after Western scored three times. Lynch singled and scored the tying run on a triple by Sharkey, who then scored on a wild pitch. Sudano added some insurance with an RBI single.
Palanzo earned the win (4-3) for Western, allowing only one run on five hits while striking out nine. PSC's only run came in the fifth, when freshman Matt Gabellieri (Lincoln, R.I.) walked, stole second, and scored on a single by junior Zinis.
PSC has a non-conference doubleheader scheduled for Sunday at Panther Park (1:00 p.m.), weather permitting. Western plays again Monday evening with a non-conference game at Albertus Magnus (7 p.m.)