The outright title is their eighth and makes them Little East tourney host
Above: Joe Balowski
Note: LEC Tournament seedings and first-round pairings listed at bottom of story
KEENE, N.H. -- Sophomore third baseman Joe Balowski (Berlin) knocked in a career-high four runs with three hits and senior rightfielder Tyler Turgeon (Norwich) had three hits -- including the 100th of his two-year career -- as the Eastern Connecticut State University baseball team clinched its eighth outright Little East Conference regular-season championship in 15 years Friday afternoon with a 12-6 victory over Keene State College in the first game of a doubleheader at the Owls Athletic Complex. Eastern (29-8, 11-3 little east) rallied from three runs back to complete the sweep with an 8-6 victory in Game 2. By winning the regular-season title, Eastern will serve as host institution for the 15th Annual LEC Baseball Tournament for the tenth time beginning Wednesday at the Eastern Baseball Stadium. The top six finishers in the regular-season standings qualify for the four-day, double-elimination tournament. In addition to eight outright titles, the Warriors have shared three additional regular-season championships. Eastern shared the regular-season title with Keene State last year. In six years between 2002 and 2007, Eastern won the regular-season title outright five times. Before this year, the Warriors had last captured the outright crown in 2007, when they went on to the sixth of their present total of seven LEC tournament titles. Against Keene in the first game Friday, the Warriors pounded out 17 hits against five Keene pitchers, with Balowski, Turgeon, senior first baseman Andrew Dewing (Swampscott, MA) and freshman shortstop Danny O'Connell (Braintree, MA) each collecting three and senior leftfielder Robert Perry (Manchester) and junior catcher Steve Cammuso (Rutland, MA) two each. Balowski drove in his four runs with a double in the third, single in the fourth and two-run single in the fifth. The Warriors scored at least two runs in four consecutive innings beginning with the second to amass an 11-3 lead. Senior righty Jim Schult (Wappingers Falls, NY) won his sixth straight pitching decision by pitching the first six innings and junior righty Evan Chamberlain (Amston) earned his second save by working the final three innings. In the second game, the Warriors scored five runs in the eighth inning on four hits, two walks and a hit batsemen to defeat Keene for the 15th time in the last 19 meetings. Turgeon drove in two runs in teh inning with a double and No. 9 hitter Drew Accomando (Monroe) added a two-run single with two out. Turgeon had four hits in the game to give him 11 hits in his las 23 at-bats (.478) and drove in three runs and score two, while Perry had three hits, two runs and two RBI three hits. Both also unloaded solo home runs. Junior righty Mike Hepple (Newington) gained teh win as teh third of three Eastern pitchers. Hepple (3-1) entered the game with two out in the seventh, a runner on third and Eastern trailing 6-3. Hepple got a swinging strikeout to end the frame and allowed three hits and walked a batter in the final two innings.In the doubleheader, Turgeon was 7-for-10 with two doubles and a home run, a walkwalk, five runs scored and three RBI. Perry and O'Connell had five hits each. O'Connell also walked and scored four runs with a double and triple and drove in two and Perry had four RBI and two runs scored. In 14 Little East games this year, Perry batted .431 with 36 total bases and 12 RBI, Cammuso .423 with 16 RBI and five walks, and Turgeon .414 with 33 total bases and 16 RBI.
#1 Eastern Connecticut State University (11-3)
#2 University of Massachusetts Boston (8-6)
#3 University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (8-6)
#4 Keene State College (7-7)
#5 University of Southern Maine (6-8)
#6 Rhode Island College (6-8)
Wednesday, May 11
Game 1: #6 Rhode Island College at #1 Eastern Connecticut, noon
Game 2: #5 Southern Maine vs. #2 UMass Boston, 3:30 p.m.
Game 3: #4 Keene State vs. #3 UMass Dartmouth, 7 p.m.