Beard homers twice to highlight Panther offense
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The University of Southern Maine scored 20 runs on 27 hits Saturday afternoon en route to sweeping a Little East Conference baseball doubleheader from Plymouth State University, 8-7 and 12-9, at Panther Park.
The Huskies extended their winning streak to 19 games and improved to 25-3 overall, while PSU falls below the .500 mark at 14-15 overall and 3-6 in conference play. USM is ranked #1 in New England and #18 in the D3baseball.com national poll.
PSU battled from behind in both games. Down 8-2 after five innings in the opener, PSU came back to within a run and had the tying run in scoring position in the ninth inning before falling, 8-7. The Panthers trailed 8-2 after two innings of the nightcap, but rallied to within three runs after seven innings before suffering the three-run setback.
Junior Troy Thibodeau (Danvers, Mass.) led the way for the Huskies with five hits on the day, including a 4-for-5 performance in the nightcap. Seniors Nick Grady (Whitefield, Maine) and Anthony Pisani (Cheshire, Conn.) collected four hits apiece on the day for USM, with Grady smacking two doubles and a home run and Pisani getting two hits in each game.
Junior Forrest Chadwick (Gardiner, Maine) also had four hits and three RBI for USM at the plate, including two doubles and a triple in the opener, and he picked up a save in both ends of the doubleheader, his second and third saves of the season.
Sophomore Dan Armstrong (Danville, N.H.) registered five hits on the afternoon for PSU, with three base knocks in the nightcap. Senior Steve Beard (Middleton, Mass.) went 3-for-5 with two home runs and four RBI in the nightcap, giving him four of the team's six homers this season. Senior Ryan McIntosh (Lincoln, N.H.) and Dave Tammaro (Cheshire, Conn.) also had three hits apiece on the day.
A four-run rally in the second inning of the opener gave USM a lead it would not relinquish, highlighted by a two-run double by Pisani and a two-run triple by Chadwick. Pisani also knocked in runs in the third and fifth innings for a four-RBI game, and Grady added a run-scoring double in the fourth.
PSU got on the board with a two-run double from McIntosh in the third inning, and Tammaro brought home a run in the fourth with an RBI single. Junior Brandon Cox (Nashua, N.H.) belted his first home run of the season in the sixth, and the Panthers rallied for three runs in the eighth on consecutive RBI singles by sophomore Brian Thompson (Southington, Conn.), Tammaro and Armstrong.
After the Panthers put the tying run on scoring position in the ninth on an error and a sacrifice bunt, Chadwick came on to get the last two out to preserve the win.
PSU senior Kevin Allard (Reading, Mass.) tossed four innings of shutout relief, allowing just two hits and a walk while striking out two.
The teams traded solo home runs in the first inning of the nightcap, Chadwick going deep for USM and Beard lining a shot over the right-field fence for PSU. The Huskies then erupted to seven runs in the second inning; freshman Sam Dexter (Oakland, Maine) cracked a three-run double and seniors Tucker White (Deerfield, N.H.), Chris Bernard (Scarborough, Maine) and John Carey (South Portland, Maine) followed with RBI hits.
PSU pecked away at the deficit, scoring seven runs from the fourth through the seventh innings. Senior Brendan Cosgrove (Merrimack, N.H.) hit a two-run home run to right field in the fourth, junior Rob Madonna (Cranston, R.I.) scored on a bases-loaded walk in the fifth, Beard lined a two-run blast to right in the sixth, and Armstrong singled home a run in the seventh.
USM relievers Andrew Richards (South Portland, Maine) and Chadwick closed out the nightcap, with Chadwick striking out four of the last five Panther batters.
Both teams are in non-conference action Sunday, with Plymouth State playing a doubleheader at Colby-Sawyer College and Southern Maine returning home to host Wheaton College in a single game at the USM Baseball Stadium.
-- 30 --