Panthers get strong starts in final tune up for LEC Tournament
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Plymouth State University got a pair of strong starts to earn a sweep of Colby College in a non-conference, seven-inning doubleheader at Coombs Field on Monday night.
Graduate student Dallas DeFrancesco (Meriden, Conn.) tossed all seven innings in the opener, giving up just a single run as the Panthers earned a 2-1 win, while freshman JP Somers (Hooksett, N.H.) allowed just one run over five innings of a 7-1 victory in the nightcap.
With the sweep the Panthers end the regular season with a 16-17 mark. PSU opens the Little East Conference (LEC) tournament as the fifth seed with a game against second-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University on Wednesday (May 9) at the University of Massachusetts Boston. PSU dropped both meetings with the Warriors during the regular season, losing a pair of close games, 7-4 and 6-5.
Colby ends its season with a 7-25 mark.
DeFrancesco scattered eight hits while giving up just one run to improve to 2-1. He needed just 66 pitches to get through all seven innings.
The PSU offense got DeFrancesco an early lead by manufacturing a run in the top of the first. Sophomore Jimmy Zimolka (Londonderry, N.H.) was hit by a pitch to start the frame. A stolen base, followed by a walk and a sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third with one out. Senior Nate Frederick (Worcester, Mass.) walked to load the bases and freshman Andrew Wasilefsky (Willington, Conn.) followed with a fly ball to left deep enough to score Zimolka for a 1-0 lead.
Plymouth State doubled its lead in the third in another rally started by Zimolka. He led off the frame with a single, moved to second on a wild pitch, was bunted to third and came home on a sacrifice fly by junior Josh Goulet (Nashua, N.H.).
The Mules cut the lead in half in the sixth. Sophomore Will Phillips (East Media, Pa.) ripped a two-bagger to right and tagged up on a fly out. Classmate William Wessman (Dallas, Texas) put the home team on the board with his RBI single to right center to make it 2-1. After the second out Colby put the go ahead runner on base with a single, but DeFrancesco got a groundball to third to close the inning.
A leadoff single and stolen base put the tying run on second with nobody out in the Mules' final at-bat, but again DeFrancesco escaped. He got a called strike three for the first out, then induced a fly ball to left center and wrapped up the win with a popup to short.
The Panthers were limited to just three hits, but were able to use small ball to pull out the win. Zimolka went 1-for-3 and scored both Panthers' runs, with Frederick and senior Cam Ruziak (Sterling, Mass.) adding the other two knocks.
Phillips, freshman Jack Mangold (Shrewsbury, N.J.) and senior Ben Coleman (Yarmouth, Maine) all went 2-for-3 for the Mules. Starting pitcher, freshman Paul Ariola (Malverne, N.Y.), went five innings while giving up three hits and three walks to go with seven strikeouts. Junior Will Cohen (Wellesley, Mass.) didn't allow a hit over the final two innings.
Somers was the beneficiary of some sloppy Colby defense as he took the mound already leading 4-0. Senior Mitch Sytulek (Raymond, N.H.) singled and Goulet walked. A double steal put two runners in scoring position and a Mules' error plated the first run. Another walk and error made it 2-0. Senior Luke Mancini (Scotia, N.Y.) drew the third walk of the inning and junior Chris Mansour (Lowell, Mass.) cashed in with a two-run single for a quick 4-0 lead.
Colby got its only run of the game in the bottom of the inning. With one down, three straight hits, including a double by Wessman, made it a 4-1 game. Somers recovered to get an infield popup and groundball to retire the side.
Plymouth State tacked on another run in the second when Ruziak tripled and came home on a sacrifice fly by Zimolka. Sytulek walked and stole second and third, but a ground out ended the threat.
Mancini pushed the lead to 7-1 when he singled with runners on second and third in the top of the third. Frederick (single) and Wasilefsky (double) both came around to score.
The Mules put runners on the corners with two down in the bottom of the third but Somers got a fly ball to center to end the threat.
The home team's best scoring opportunity came in the sixth inning. After two quick outs, a walk, hit batter and single from freshman Andrew Russell (Massapequa, N.Y.) loaded the bases, but reliever Trevor Delesdernier (East Lyme, Conn.) got out of the jame with a groundball to second.
After a leadoff hit batter in the bottom of the seventh, junior Tyler Shemick (Foster, R.I.) recovered to set down the next three batters without issue.
Somers allowed just seven hits and a pair of walks in his five innings. With the win he improved to 2-0. Wasilefsky was the only Panther with a multi-hit game, finishing 2-for-4. Frederick went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks and two runs scored. Plymouth stole ten bases, with Sytulek (four) and Frederick (two) leading the way.
Junior Jackson Ward (Wilton, Conn.) gave up three hits and four walks while allowing five runs, three earned, in two innings. He dropped to 0-3. Three Mules' pitchers combined to go the final four innings allowing a walk and three hits, but no runs.
The Panthers are seeking their first LEC Tournament win since the 2012 season, when the team advanced to the championship game before falling to the University of Southern Maine. First pitch for Wednesday's game with ECSU is set for 2:30 p.m.
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