Panthers run into buzz saw in LEC opener
MANSFIELD, Conn. – The Plymouth State University baseball team gave Eastern Connecticut State University a tough challenge in game one before running into a masterful pitching performance in the nightcap Saturday afternoon as the Warriors took both ends of an LEC doubleheader, 6-4 and 9-1, in the conference opener for both schools at the ECSU Baseball Stadium.
Eastern's Jim Schult (Wappingers Falls, N.Y.) threw a complete-game two-hitter with a career-high 13 strikeouts and no walks in the nightcap, retiring the final 19 batters in order to complete Eastern’s sweep. The Warriors, ranked No. 7 nationally, are now 15-3 overall, while PSU falls to 5-12. Tyler Turgeon (Norwich, Conn.) extended his hitting streak to 16 with one hit in each game. He drove in three runs in the nightcap with a two-run single and sacrifice fly.
Seniors Matt Koban (Bradford, N.H.) and Bryant Lausberg (Somersworth, N.H.) were Plymouth State’s only two hitters with more than one hit on the afternoon, picking up two each. In the second game, relief pitchers Jeff Runnals (Wolfeboro, N.H.), Chris Bryant (Lebanon, N.H.), Spencer Webb (Warwick, R.I.) and Kevin Allard (Reading, Mass.) provided highlights, pitching four scoreless innings, allowing only four hits.
Plymouth State fell behind 5-0 in the first game as junior righty Jim Dimon (Seymour, Conn.) limited the Panthers to one hit through five innings. The Panthers broke through in the sixth inning with three runs to cut the deficit to 5-3 as Lausberg doubled in a run and two runs came home on a sacrifice fly by junior Luke Merrill (Pittsburg, N.H.) and an outfield error.
Eastern tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth before PSU gave one last challenge in the top of the ninth. Merrill and junior Mike Cappiello (Westfield, N.J.) singled to start the rally, and both were removed for pinch runners. After a fielder’s choice loaded the bases, Koban knocked in a run with an infield single, cutting the margin to 6-4, but Eastern sophomore righty Mike Riemer (Ellington, Conn.) recorded his first save with a game-ending ground out to first.
PSU managed just one run on two hits off Schult in the nightcap. Senior Grant Livingston (Niantic, Conn.) led off the third inning with a double to right and scored on a single to left by sophomore Steve Beard (Middlton, Mass.). After an Eastern error put Panther runners at second and third, Schult struck out Merrill to end the inning, and then went 1-2-3 over the final six innings.
Eastern visits Montclair State University Tuesday at 4 p.m. PSU’s upcoming schedule is up in the air, due to snowy fields in New Hampshire.
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