Late rally falls short in game one as Panthers drop LEC twin bill
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Plymouth State University brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning of game one of a Little East Conference (LEC) doubleheader with Eastern Connecticut State University, but the late rally fell short as the Warriors held on to win a pair of games at Panther Park on Sunday afternoon.
ECSU led 7-3 heading into the Panthers' last at bat in game one, but PSU loaded the bases with one away on three walks to bring the tying run to the plate. A sacrifice fly from senior Nate Frederick (Worcester, Mass.) brought in one run, but a strikeout squashed the rally.
Game two went back-and-forth, with PSU taking a 5-4 lead in the fifth thanks to three Warriors' errors. Eastern Connecticut answered with a pair of runs in the seventh, though, and junior Cole Ogorzalek (Portland, Conn.) pitched four perfect innings in relief as ECSU held on for the 6-5 win.
With the losses PSU drops to 10-13 and 3-5 in the LEC. Eastern Connecticut moves to 16-11 and 6-3 in league play.
Four straight batters reached for the Warriors with two down in the top of the first. A single and walk set up freshman Anthony Stigler (Mansfield, Conn.), who came through with an RBI hit up the middle to take a quick 1-0 lead. Senior Merlyn Herrera (La Yaquiza, D.R.) followed with a single to center, but the Panthers executed a perfect relay to cut down a run at the plate and keep the deficit at one.
The Warriors went back in front in the third when senior D.J. Scavone (Auburn, Mass.) blasted a two-run homer well over the 345' sign in right center field. Eastern tacked on two unearned runs in the fifth. A fielder's choice and a pair of walks loaded the bases with two outs and a throwing error allowed two runs to score.
PSU used a pair of doubles in the bottom half of the inning to get a run back. Freshman Joe Routhier (Nashua, N.H.) ripped a double over the right fielder's head and one out later junior Geoff Kayo (Londonderry, N.H.) launched a booming double to straight away center field to make it 5-2.
The Panthers added another run in the sixth with some small ball and the help of some sloppy play by the Warriors. Junior Ryan Boldwin (Manchester, N.H.) worked a leadoff walk. The next three batters all attempted to put down sacrifice bunts. The first was safe when the ECSU first baseman couldn't hold onto the throw, and the second reached when the pitcher threw the ball away, allowing the run to score. The third straight sacrifice put runners on second and third with just one out, but ECSU escaped further trouble when starter Jordan Muchin (West Hartford, Conn.) struck out the next two batters.
Eastern Connecticut added single runs in the seventh and eighth on an RBI single from Herrera and a successful squeeze play to extend the lead to 7-3.
Plymouth rallied in the bottom of the ninth as the Warriors walked the bases loaded with one out. Frederick drove in a run with his sacrifice fly, a PSU strikeout ended the game one batter later.
Brown (1-1) took the loss after allowing five runs, three earned, over 5.1 innings. Kayo finished 2-for-5 with a double and RBI.
Muchin (3-3) earned the win, going seven innings while giving up three runs and striking out nine. Scavone finished 2-for-3 with a pair of walks, two RBI and three runs scored.
Eastern struck first with two runs in the third. Back-to-back singles opened the inning. After two outs a walk loaded the bases. Sophomore Drew Alexopoulos (Hanson, Mass.) hit a sharp grounder toward the middle and the PSU shortstop made a diving save, but the throw was offline as two runs came in to score.
PSU took advantage of two Warriors' errors in the bottom of the inning to tie the game. An error, walk and error loaded the bases with one away. Frederick drove in one run with a well-placed ground ball in the first base hole and senior Mitch Sytulek (Raymond, N.H.) walked to force in another run, but a double play ball ended the rally.
ECSU used a two-out rally to retake the lead in the fifth inning. Junior Dale Keller (Oxford, Conn.) doubled and junior Ryan Hood (Arlington, Mass.) reached on an error. Hood stole second to put two runners in scoring position and junior Alexander White (West Hartford, Conn.) brought them both home with a base hit to right center field.
The Panthers responded with three runs in the bottom of the inning to take their first lead of the day. Kayo walked and Richard reached on another error to put runners at the corners. The ECSU catcher attempted to throw behind Richard at first, but the throw was wide of the bag allowing Richard to go all the way to third and Kayo to come home. Goulet followed with a run-scoring double to right center, then stole third and came home on a sacrifice fly from Frederick to put PSU in front, 5-4.
The Warriors went back in front in the seventh inning. Back-to-back singles put two runners on with one out. Eastern attempted a double steal, but the Panthers caught the lead runner in a rundown for the second out. A walk made it first and second and senior Collin Russell (Sandwich, Mass.) singled to center to score one run. The ball got past the centerfielder, allowing the second run to come home and the Warriors went back up, 6-5.
Ogorzalek, who had come on in relief for ECSU in the bottom of the sixth, didn't allow a baserunner the rest of the way as the Warriors held on for the one-run win.
Goulet (double, triple) had two of the Panthers' three hits. Sophomore Sean Engel (Tyngsboro, Mass.) took the loss after allowing the two runs in the seventh. Junior Cam Cossette (Milford, Mass.) got the start, allowing four runs (two earned) over 4.2 innings.
Ogorzalek (2-1) struck out three in his four innings of work to get the win. Keller finished 3-for-3.
PSU travels to Keene State College for a single game on Monday (Apr. 23), before hosting the Owls at Panther Park on Tuesday (Apr. 24). First pitch for both games is 3:30 p.m.
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