GORHAM, Maine - The top-seeded University of Southern Maine Huskies opened the 2009 Little East Conference Tournament pounding out 25 hits, including 16 for extra bases, and scoring 27 runs to defeat the eighth-seeded Plymouth State University Panthers by scores of 19-3 and 8-1 Saturday and sweep a best-of-three first round series at the USM Baseball Stadium.
The nationally-ranked Huskies, winners of three straight, improve to 34-5 overall, and will host the LEC's four-team, double-elimination finals that start Thursday (12:00 p.m.). The Panthers conclude their season at 17-25.
Junior Collin Henry (Penobscot, Maine) had a big day with four extra base hits and four RBI in the twinbill, and pitched eight strong innings in the nightcap to pick up his third win of the season. Henry had two doubles and three RBI in the first game, and a double and his fifth home run of the season in game two. On the hill, the southpaw allowed three hits and three walks while fanning eight.
Junior Josh Mackey (Danvers, Mass.) had three hits and six RBI in the doubleheader. Senior Anthony D'Alfonso (Westbrook, Maine) set a USM single-season record for RBI when he drove in his 71st run of the season in the second game with a sacrifice fly. Freshman Anthony Pisani (Cheshire, Conn.) had five hits, including three doubles, scored four times and had two RBI.
Senior right-hander Tim Therrian (New Portland, Maine) was the beneficiary of the Huskies' first game outburst, going six innings for his eighth win of the season. He gave up five hits and one walk, one earned run and struck out two.
The Panthers took an early 2-0 lead in game one with singles markers in the first and second innings before USM put seven on the board in the home half of the second to take command. Sophomore Bryant Lausberg (Somersworth, N.H.) drove in PSU's run in the first with a single, and junior Steve Picco (Marshfield, Mass.) touched Therrian for a solo home run in the second.
USM put the game away with five runs in the fifth and five more in the sixth to open a 17-3 lead. Mackey had an RBI single in the fifth and a two-run double in the sixth. D'Alfonso contributed a two-run triple in the sixth to tie Mike McCullum's record of 70 RBI set in 1999. Sophomore Mike Eaton (Sabattus, Maine) hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning.
In the second game, Mackey put USM up 1-0 with a sacrifice fly that scored senior Chris Burleson (Portland, Maine/Deering) in the first. Seniors Ryan Pike (Saco, Maine) and Ryan Gaffney (Salem, N.H.) drove in runs in the second.
PSU reached Henry for its only run in the third on a walk, a single by sophomore Grant Livingston (Niantic, Conn.) and an RBI ground out from senior Nick Englert (North Woodstock, N.H./Lin-Wood).
D'Alfonso set the RBI mark in the third plating Mackey who had tripled. Henry followed with his home run to right field.
Senior Jay Kleponis (Reading, Mass.) had two hits for PSU in the nightcap. Senior right-hander Taylor Ketchum (Fairhaven, Mass.) took the loss in the opener, and classmate Chris Welch (South Burlington, Vt.) was the losing hurler in game two.
(Courtesy of Southern Maine Sports Information)
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