Panthers earn berth in LEC Tournament
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Junior Brendan Cosgrove cracked an RBI double off the top of the right-center field fence Saturday afternoon, highlighting a three-run seventh-inning rally as Plymouth State University defeated Western Connecticut State University, 7-5, in the first game of the regular-season-ending Little East Conference baseball doubleheader at Panther Park.
The Colonials bounced back to take the nightcap, 2-0, behind the pitching of freshman Alex Iannone, who scattered five hits and three walks to give the visitors the split.
The victory in the first game clinched a berth in the Little East Conference Tournament for PSU (17-20). The double-elimination event will be hosted by top-seeded University of Southern Maine, with the first game slated for Wednesday at 12 noon. Western Conn. wraps up its season at 17-22 overall.
PSU scored single runs in four of the first five innings of the opener to open up a 4-1 lead. Sophomore Spencer Webb drew a bases-loaded walk to bring home a run in the first; freshman David Foote singled home a run in the second; sophomore Jeff Runnals cracked an RBI double in the fourth, and a Colonial error led to the fourth run in the fifth.
Western got on the board in the fourth inning when junior Conor Bierfeldt doubled and later scored on an infield groundout. The Colonial offense came alive with two runs in the sixth and seventh innings, Bierfeldt belting a two-run homer to left center in the sixth and sophomore Bobby Coyne and junior Chris Alberto delivering key hits in the seventh.
PSU came right back in the bottom of the seventh with three runs to take the lead for good. Cosgrove's double brought home one run, a Colonial error plated another, and freshman Paul Reny finished off the scoring with a sacrifice fly.
Senior Joe Hudson came out of the bullpen and pitched two scoreless innings to record his second save. Senior Bobby Chatfield posted the victory (3-4), allowing five runs on five hits through seven innings, striking out six.
Reny finished with two hits for PSU, while junior Rew Wilson reached base three times on two hits and a walk.
Western senior Mike Yates singled in front of Bierfeldt's home run in the sixth inning, breaking the school's career hits record. It was his 174th career hit, breaking the mark of 173 by Sam McNeil (2007-10).
The nightcap was a pitching duel between Iannone and PSU senior Jonathan Bishop, who both went the distance. Bishop ended up the tough-luck loser despite allowing just two runs on seven hits while striking out seven.
The only runs of the game were produced by the first two batters in the top of the first. Alberto led off with a single through the left side and Yates added to his record with his fifth home run of the season to left field. That ended up as the extent of the Western offense against Bishop, as only two runners reached second base the rest of the way.
PSU loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the first but couldn't push a run across. Iannone settled down after that, and no Panther runners reached second base. Reny and Runnals each had two singles for PSU, while Yates had two more hits for Western.
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