Gaita strikes out eight as Panthers take game one
GORHAM, Maine – Junior Dylan Gaita (Melrose, Mass.) struck out eight while surrendering just one earned run as Plymouth State University earned a split of a Little East Conference (LEC) baseball doubleheader against #23 University of Southern Maine at Ed Flaherty Field on Saturday.
Gaita pitched a gem and the Panthers took advantage of four USM errors to take game one, 7-2. The Huskies rebounded and used a four-run first inning to take game two, 10-1. With the split Plymouth State goes to 10-11 and 3-3 in LEC play, while Southern Maine now stands at 19-8 and 6-3 in league play.
USM took a 1-0 lead in the third. Sophomore Anthony Degifico (South Portland, Maine) doubled to start the inning. After Gaita struck out the next two, junior Zach Quintal (Eliot, Maine) singled Degifico home.
Plymouth State took advantage of some sloppy play to plate a pair of unearned runs in the fourth. Senior Nate Frederick (Worcester, Mass.) reached on an error with one out and moved to second on a wild pitch. Sophomore Ben Curry (Hampstead, N.H.) drove him in with a two-out single and senior Cam Ruziak (Sterling, Mass.) gave the Panthers the lead with an RBI double to right.
The Huskies tied the game with an unearned run in the bottom of the inning. An error, stolen base, infield hit and sacrifice fly brought in USM's second run of the day.
PSU went ahead in the sixth. Junior Ryan Boldwin (Manchester, N.H.) worked a one-out walk and went to second on a balk. Curry singled to left to score Boldwin and the Panthers took a 3-2 lead.
Sophomore Jimmy Zimolka (Londonderry, N.H.) singled with one away in the top of the seventh, then stole second and came home when junior Geoff Kayo (Londonderry, N.H.) reached on a throwing error by the USM third baseman to make it a 4-2 game.
Gaita got some defensive help to keep the two-run lead in the bottom of the eighth. With one out, junior Jake Dexter (Oakland, Maine) singled to left. Sophomore Dylan Hapworth (Winslow, Maine) followed with a double to the right center field gap, but Zimolka got the ball in quickly and Kayo's relay throw home was in time to nail Dexter at the plate. After an infield hit put runners on the corners, Gaita got a ground ball to second to end the threat.
Plymouth put the game away with three insurance runs in the top of the ninth. With the bases empty and two away, Zimolka doubled down the left field line and Kayo was intentionally walked. Junior Ryan Richard (Berlin, N.H.) reached on an error to load the bases and classmate Josh Goulet (Nashua, N.H.) brought all three runners home with a double to right.
Junior David Sampson (Bellingham, Mass.) worked around a one-out single to close out the win.
Zimolka, Goulet and Curry combined to go 6-for-14 with five RBI and three runs scored. Gaita surrendered just seven hits and a walk in his eight innings to improve to 3-0 on the year.
Junior Dalton Rice (Waterford, Maine) suffered the loss to fall to 1-1 after allowing three runs, one earned, while striking out 11 over six innings. Six of the Panthers' seven runs were unearned.
The Huskies set the tone early with a four-run first inning. A walk, wild pitch, balk and RBI single plated the first run before junior Devin Warren (Smithfield, Maine) reached on catcher's interference. An RBI single by sophomore Andrew Olszak (Danvers, Mass.) and two-run triple from Degifico accounted for the four runs.
PSU got one back without getting the ball out of the infield in the top of the third. With two away, Richard went to first after being hit by a pitch. Goulet reached on a bunt single and Richard moved up to third. An infield hit by Frederick scored Richard to cut the deficit to 4-1.
A walk, double and two-run single from Degifico made it 6-1 in the fifth. The Huskies were hoping for more when the next batter singled to chase junior Tyler Shemick (Foster, R.I.), but senior Kyle McCarthy (Nashua, N.H.) came on to retire the next three batters to end the threat.
USM tacked on a single run in the sixth on a solo blast from Hapworth, then put the game away with three more in the seventh.
Shemick (1-4) suffered the loss after giving up six runs, only three earned, in four innings of work. McCarthy tossed the last four innings, allowing four runs. The PSU offense was held to just six singles.
Sophomore Gage Feeney (Cutler, Maine) earned the win for the Huskies to improve to 5-1, after allowing one run on five hits over seven innings.
Plymouth State finally plays its home-opener on Sunday (Apr. 22) with another LEC twin bill. The Panthers host Eastern Connecticut State University at Panther Park with games starting at 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.
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