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Baseball: Warriors Hold on for LEC Win

Warriors remain alive in tournament by eliminating Southern Maine, 6-5

dewing.jpg

Above: Andrew Dewing

MANSFIELD, Conn. --  Top-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University used a four-run fourth inning to move out to a five-run lead and held on to eliminate fourth-seeded University of Southern Maine, 6-5, on the third day of the 2011 Little East Conference Baseball Tournament Friday afternoon at the Eastern Baseball Stadium.

The win is the second in the tournament after an opening loss to sixth-seeded Rhode Island College as Eastern (31-10) advances with the elimination round win to face once-beaten and fourth-seeded Keene State College (29-13) Friday night at 7:30 p.m. The Owls lost to Rhode Island College, 3-2, earlier Friday, in the finals of the winners' bracket. Rhode Island won its only title as the No. 5 seed in 2005.

Fifth-seeded Southern Maine (22-19) was eliminated with its second straight after downing 2010 LEC Tournament champion University of Massachusetts Boston in Wednesday's tournament opener.

The Eastern-Keene winner must defeat unbeaten Rhode Island College (20-18) Saturday, which has two chances to win one game beginning at noon.

Leading 2-1 against Southern Maine, seven-time tournament champion Eastern scored four times in the fourth on two hits, three walks and three hit batsmen in chasing Southern Maine sophomore lefty starter  Nick Douglass. Eastern No. 3 hitter Jim Schult (Wappingers Falls, NY) stroked a two-run double in the inning and runs were forced in on a bases loaded walk and hit batsmen.

Senior first baseman Andrew Dewing (Swampscott, MA) drove in his second and third runs in the tournament for Eastern with a game-tying single in the second and go-ahead single in the third.

Southern Maine bounced back from the early five-run deficit to chase Eastern freshman righty starter Greg Porter (Mystic) in a three-run fifth that cut the gap to 6-5. It appeared that the Huskies would tie the game in the seventh when sophomore centerfielder Tucker White singled to center with the tying run on second, but senior DH Josh Mackey  got a slow start and had to hold at third. One batter later, Mackey was erased at the plate on a ground ball to senior third baseman Tyler Turgeon (Norwich) with the infield in. Inserted as the fourth pitcher at that point, freshman righty Andrew Merritt (Norwalk) got a  fly ball to right and ground ball to strand the tying and go-ahead runs.

Dewing drove in three runs for Eastern with his two singles and a hit-by-pitch and senior leadoff hitter Shane Kingsley (Beacon Falls) scored twice after walking and singling.

Merritt pitched 2 2/3 hitless innings to save the win for junior righty Evan Chamberlain (Amston), who was accorded the win with 1 1/3 scoreless innings of one-hit relief.

In Southern Maine's three-run fifth, No. 3 hitter Mike Eaton and sophomore cleanup hitter Nick Grady doubled  and tripled, respectively, with one out and White ripped a two-run single to center. Dustin Stanton tossed 5 1/3 scoreless innings of two-hit relief to allow Southern Maine to chip back into contention.