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Baseball: Warriors Alive in LEC Tourney

Schult pitches complete game, drives in go-ahead run in 8-4 win

MANSFIELD, Conn. - Senior pitcher Jim Schult (Wappingers Fall, NY) hurled his third complete-game and drove in the game-winning run to lift top-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University to an 8-4 victory over second-seeded University of Massachusetts Boston this afternoon in Game 4 of the 2011 Little East Baseball Championship at the Eastern Baseball Stadium. With the victory, the Warriors reach the 30-win plateau for the 11th consecutive season.

Eastern Connecticut (30-10) will advance to face the loser between fourth-seeded Keene State College (28-12) and fifth-seeded University of Southern Maine (22-17) at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow afternoon. The Owls and Huskies will square off later this evening in the third and final contest of Day 2. The Beacons complete the 2011 campaign with an overall record of 18-22.

The Warriors seized the momentum of the first elimination contest of the tournament in the bottom of the fourth inning. Trailing by a score of 3-2, the first three UMass Boston runners reached safely to lead off the frame. Schult bear-down to strike out the Beacons' leadoff hitter on a crafty change-up to record the first out. He then proceeded to induce a ground ball double play to keep Eastern Connecticut within a run and quell the UMass Boston rally.

The Warriors quickly capitalized on the momentum swing in the top of the fifth. Senior catcher Chris Cannata (Southington) started the rally with a one-out single to left field, while senior centerfielder Shane Kingsley (Beacon Falls) reached on a Beacons' defensive miscue. Following a fly-out, Schult was able to make the error prove costly and forge a 4-4 tie with an RBI-single to left field.

Eastern Connecticut and UMass Boston each added a run in the sixth, but the Warriors regained the advantage with a pair of runs in the seventh. Kingsley greeted Beacons relief pitcher sophomore Daniel Heefner with single to left field and then stole second to put Eastern Connecticut in scoring position.  Senior right fielder Robert Perry (Manchester, CT) was able to work a full-count walk. Schult followed with his second clutch hit of the afternoon, lacing single into centerfield to score the eventual game-winning run. Classmate right fielder Tyler Turgeon (Norwich) gave the No. 1 seed an insurance run with a RBI-single to left. 
Schult limited the high-powered Beacons attack to just four runs on eight hits without yielding a walk. The right-hander reached double digits in strikeouts (10) for the fourth time on the campaign. He allowed just one hit over the final three innings to raise his individual record to 9-1.

His counterpart, freshman Lucas Ilges, kept the Eastern Connecticut line-up at-bay for six innings, surrendering four runs, three of which were earned, on eight hits. Heefner suffered the loss, allowing four runs on four hits over the final three innings.

The Warriors featured a well-balanced lineup as eight of the starting nine recorded at least one hit. Schult fueled the offensive attack with a 3-for-5 performance with a pair of runs batted in, while senior Kingsley posted a 2-for-4 outing. After going hitless with a walk in four previous plate appeareances, Perry extended his current hitting streak to 24 games with a two-run homer in the top of the eighth that provided a four-run cushion..

UMass Boston was limited to just eight hits, including one over the final three innings. Senior Ryan Walsh led the Beacons with a 2-for-3 performance and a pair of runs scored. The second baseman will graduate as the UMass Boston all-time leader in hits with 266. Sophomore shortstop Matt Consiglio and classmate catcher Christos Ferreira joined Walsh with a pair of base knocks. Consiglio gave the Beacons a 3-2 advantage with a two-out, bases loaded two-run scoring single in the bottom of the third.