DANBURY, Conn. - The 2002 Plymouth State College baseball season came to an end Tuesday when the sixth-seeded Panthers were eliminated from the Little East Conference Tournament by third-seeded Western Connecticut State University, 4-2, at Westside Field.
The host Colonials broke a 2-2 tie with a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, and then held off the Panthers in the ninth to earn the victory. WCSU, 17-19 overall, advances to the double-elimination LEC Tournament this Thursday through Saturday at top-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University, while PSC completes the campaign at 16-20-1.
Plymouth State took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when sophomore Jay Morgan (Laconia, N.H.) walked, went to second on a sacrifice bunt by freshman Matt Gabellieri (Lincoln, R.I.) and scored on a single by junior Jay Zinis (Manchester, N.H.).
After WCSU tied the game with an unearned run in the last of the fifth, PSC regained the one-run lead in the sixth with their own unearned run. Junior Matt Salokangas (New Ipswich, N.H.) singled with one out and went to second when junior Sy Tebbetts (Hollis, N.H.) was hit by a pitch. Salokangas went to third on a Western outfielder error on Jay Morgan's fly ball, and he scored on a catcher's throwing error attempting to gun down out PSC pinch runner Derek Guimond (Auburn, Maine) stealing second base.
The Colonials tied it up again in the bottom of the sixth, as senior Bob Nardi doubled, went to third on a wild pitch, and scored on an infield groundout. Western scored the decisive runs in the eighth when sophomore Ian Reilly led off with a single and Nardi followed with a walk. After a sacrifice bunt advanced the runners, Reilly scored on a fielder's choice by freshman D.J. Mulhall and Nardi came home on a sacrifice fly by sophomore Jonathan Lynch.
Senior Greg Palanzo went the distance to pick up the victory (5-3) for Western, allowing only five hits and three walks while striking out 10. Senior Jeff Morgan (Laconia, N.H.) pitched well in defeat (3-3) for PSC, giving up seven hits and three walks while fanning five.
The outcome also winds up a record-setting career for the Panther right-hander. Morgan finishes his four-year career with PSC all-time records for pitching appearances (44), innings (242.1), runs allowed (161), strikeouts (214), and victories (19). The career record for victories had stood since Dan Chick won 17 games for PSC from 1967-70.