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BASEBALL POWERS PAST WESTERN

Coupled with loss by USM, Warriors' hopes for LEC's top seed alive

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magliola WEB_8935.jpgMANSFIELD, Conn. - Junior righty Matt Fontaine (Cranston, RI) struck out ten Western Connecticut State University batters for the second time in two weeks and junior third baseman Melvin Castillo (Danbury) lashed two home runs to power the Eastern Connecticut State University baseball team to a 14-5 Little East Conference victory Friday afternoon at the Eastern Baseball Stadium.

At left: Andrew Magliola

The conference win is the fifth straight for Eastern (25-6, 9-3 little east) since dropping a 5-3 decision here to Western (11-19, 3-7 little east). The Colonials have lost eight of their last nine since defeating Eastern two weeks ago.

Eastern's win, coupled with the University of Southern Maine's 5-0 home loss to Massachusetts Boston Friday, moves the Warriors to within a game of the conference-leading Huskies, Ranked No. 1 in Division III, Southern Maine is 10-2 in the LEC. An Eastern sweep at UMass Boston Saturday, coupled with one Southern Maine loss to visiting Rhode Island College in Saturady's doubleheader, would give Eastern the No. 1 tournament seed.

Pinned with the loss against Western two weeks ago, Fontaine (4-1) allowed two earned runs on eight hits Friday. He struck out ten and did not issue a walk. In his loss to Western, Fontaine was knocked out of the game while the Colonials were scoring the go-ahead runs in the eighth inning. He fanne ten and walked only one in that game but gave up ten hits and five earned runs.

Castillo socked a solo home run to snap a 3-3 tie in the fifth and ripped a two-run home run in the ninth. He finished with thre of Eastern's  15 hits and scored four runs. Castillo now has a team-leading ten home runs this year and 35 in his three-year career. The homers moved him ahead of Mark Riemer into third place all-time on the Eastern home run list behind Don Fusari (38) and and Dwight Wildman (37).

Batting ninth in the order, senior catcher Andrew Magliola (East Haven) reached base five times with three hits (two doubles) and two walks. He drove in three runs and scored one. The top two hitters in the Eastern lineup -- junior second baseman John Parke (Middlefield) and junior shortstop Travis Bass (West Hartford) - each drove in two runs, as did senior DH Shawn Gilblair (Windham).

Leading 7-3, Eastern broke the game open with five runs in the eighth inning on five hits, a walk and hit batseman. Sophomore rightfielder Jim Schult (Wappingers Falls, NY) tripled and scored the first run on Gilblair's double. Gilblair scored on Castillo's single and Parke later plated one with a single.

Western junior righty Steve Bainer allowed only eight hits before being removed iin the seenth, but walked six and hit two batters.Senior first baseman Matt Perper had two hits and scored two runs for Western, with junior DH Dan Baccaro and freshman rightfielder Mike Yates also picking up two of the Colonials' game total of 13 hits. With Western trailing 3-0, No. 8 hitter Yates doubled and scored on a single by Baccaro for the Colonials' first run, and Western tied the game with two runs in the fourth on RBI singles by Yates and No. 9 hitter Dan Amarante.

Eastern Conn. 14, Western Conn. 5

Eastern Conn. (25-6, 9-3 little east)        030    012  152 --  14   15   4
Western Conn. (11-19, 3-7 little east)      001   200   020 --   5   13   0

Matt Fontaine (4-1), James Kukucka (8), Chris Wojick (9) and Andrew Magliola, Steve Cammuso (8). Steve Bainer (1-5), Mike Baccaro (7), Billy Thompson (9) and Rob Bedard, Tommy Coppola (9). 2B-Magliola 2, Shawn Gilblair (E), Zach Dandrea, Mike Yates (W); 3B-Jim Schult (E); HR-Melvin Castillo 2 (10) (E).