Panthers clinch Little East play-off berth
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Freshman Jarek Krajewski (Cranston, R.I.) singled off the right field fence to drive in the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning Friday afternoon to lift Plymouth State University to a 6-5 victory over Western Connecticut State University in game one of the final Little East Conference baseball doubleheader of the regular season at Panther Park.
Sophomore Patrick Cannon (Concord, N.H.) collected four hits and drove in two runs in the nightcap, including his first home run of the season, to push the Panthers to a 7-2 victory and a sweep of the twin bill. Freshman Curtis Arsenault (Berlin, N.H./Phillips Exeter) pitched five scoreless innings to earn the win (4-1), scattering six hits and a walk and striking out eight.
The outcome clinched an LEC Tournament berth for the Panthers, which begins Wednesday at the site of the top seed. PSU winds up the regular season at 22-14 overall and tied for fourth place in the Little East at 7-7. The 22 wins are the most in a season for PSU since the 1997 team finished 22-17, and the seven conference victories are the most since the 1999 Panthers were 9-5. Western Conn. wraps up its season at 15-21 overall and 4-10 in the Little East.
The Colonials took a 3-0 lead in the third inning of the opener. Freshman Peter Nanos (Farmington, Conn.) drilled a two-run double to left center field and came home on a single to center by classmate EJ Lavoie (East Granby, Conn.) Nanos and Lavoie sparked a two-run rally in the fifth inning that pushed the lead to 5-0 as Nanos knocked in a run with an infield grounder to the right side and Lavoie cracked an RBI double to left center.
PSU came right back with four runs in the bottom of the fifth. Senior Brandon Cox (Nashua, N.H.) doubled home the first run, junior Paul Reny (South Portland, Maine) followed with an RBI single and sophomore Jake Broom (New London, N.H.) capped the rally with a two-out, two-run single through the left side.
The Panthers forced extra frames with the tying run in the bottom of the ninth as Cox doubled down the left field line with one out and Reny drove him home with a single to right. Cannon walked to lead off the PSU half of the 10th inning, stole second, went to third on a single by sophomore Dave Hall (Groton, Conn.), and scored the game-winning run on Krajewski's towering fly off the right field fence.
Senior Spencer Webb (Warwick, R.I.) earned the win (3-0) for PSU with a scoreless inning of relief. Senior starter Tucker Regan (Niantic, Conn.) went the first three innings, and junior Cody Gilchrist (Tyngsboro, Mass.) pitched six strong innings of relief, allowing just two runs on five hits, striking out three.
Lavoie and senior Bobby Coyne (Clinton, Conn.) had three hits each for Western. Junior starter Edgard Santiago (New London, Conn.) went eight innings, allowing four runs on seven hits.
The Panthers pulled away from the Colonials in the nightcap with at least one run in four of the first five innings. After Cannon's lead-off homer to right in the first, the Panthers plate two runs in the third on a passed ball and a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch. Broom cracked an RBI triple in the fourth inning and scored on a single by junior Brian Thompson (Southington, Conn.), and Cannon added an RBI single in the fifth to make it a 6-0 game.
Western got on the board with single runs in the sixth and seventh innings. Senior Jeff John (Trumbull, Conn.) knocked in a run with a grounder to the right side in the sixth, and Lavoie drove home a run with a sacrifice fly in the seventh. PSU rounded out the scoring with a run in the eighth when Hall singled, stole second and scored on Thompson's third hit of the game, a single up the middle. Krajewski also had three hits, including a pair of doubles.
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