Mancini, Ruziak go deep as Panthers earn season split with Owls
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Seniors Luke Mancini (Scotia, N.Y.) and Cam Ruziak (Sterling, Mass.) both homered as Plymouth State University topped Keene State College, 13-11, in a wild, back-and-forth Little East Conference (LEC) baseball game at Panther Park on Tuesday afternoon.
The two teams combined for 24 runs and 27 hits, as no lead appeared to be safe. With the win the Panthers earn a split in the home-and-home series to improve to 11-14 and 4-6 in the LEC. Keene State drops to 14-15 overall and 4-6 in league play.
The Panthers drew first blood with a run in the bottom of the first when junior Ryan Richard (Berlin, N.H.) drove home sophomore Jimmy Zimolka (Londonderry, N.H.) with a sacrifice fly to left. Zimolka had opened the inning with a double to the right center field gap.
Keene tied the game in the third when junior David Sevigny (Rocky Hill, Conn.), who had doubled to start the inning, came around to score on a PSU error, but the Panther offense plated four in the bottom of the frame to go ahead 5-1.
Ruziak launched his third home run of the year with one out. Richard drove in a run with a single and an Owls' error made it 4-1. Junior Josh Goulet (Nashua, N.H.) added an RBI single to score Richard.
KSC used a five-run fifth to jump in front. Junior Devin Springfield (Jaffrey, N.H.) manufactured a run on his own. After singling he stole second, moved to third when the throw went into the outfield, and scored on a wild pitch. The next five batters all reached with junior Mac Struthers (Strafford, N.H.) and senior Christian Bourgea (Litchfield, N.H.) providing run-scoring hits. Junior Connor Longley (Foxboro, Mass.) also had an RBI as Keene pulled in front, 6-5.
PSU erupted for six runs in the bottom of the sixth, all with two away, to take the lead back. Ruziak singled to start the inning, but the next two batters made outs as he moved up to third. Richard singled, Goulet ripped a triple into the gap and Frederick's RBI double made it 9-6. After sophomore Ben Curry (Hampstead, N.H.) was hit with a pitch, Mancini connected on a deep drive to straight away centerfield to tack on three more.
Goulet added a run-scoring single to plate Zimolka in the seventh and it looked like the 13-6 lead would be more than enough.
Keene scrapped back with three runs in the top of the eighth. With one out and a runner on second, Springfield singled to right to make it 13-7. A double from junior Nate Rossi (Hampstead, N.H.) put two runners in scoring position with one away. A run-scoring groundout and a double by senior Abe Grainger (Bedford, Mass.) made it 13-9.
The Owls used a walk, single and PSU error to cut the margin to 13-10 with one out in the ninth and the Panthers went to junior Dylan Gaita (Melrose, Mass.) to close it out. One more run came home on a groundout, but Gaita struck out Rossi looking to end the game.
Eight of the nine PSU starters had a base hit and all nine reached base. Goulet had a three-hit game, while Zimolka, Richard, Frederick and Ruziak all had a pair of hits each. Richard, Goulet and Mancini each drove in three runs.
Freshman Will Austin (Sunapee, N.H.) worked three innings in relief to earn the win and improve to 1-1, while Gaita picked up his third save of the year.
Springfield finished 3-for-6 for the Owls, scoring twice and driving in a pair of runs, but five of the six Owls' pitchers gave up runs with sophomore Tyler Fitzgerald (Peabody, Mass.) taking the loss to fall to 3-2.
The game was the first of seven straight home games for the Panthers. PSU will host Salem State University for a single game on Thursday (Apr. 26) with first pitch scheduled for 3:30 p.m.
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