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Baseball: Surging Warriors Catch Tufts

 Purnell limits Jumbos to one run in relief for No. 18-ranked team

purnell 72dpi_8565.jpgMEDFORD, Mass. - Junior righty Matt Purnell (Stafford Springs) pitched 3+ stellar innings in relief and sophomore third baseman Mike Vaccarelli (Wolcott) sparked a four-run sixth inning with a tie-braeaking two-out, two-run triple as the Eastern Connecticut State University baseball team won its fifth straight, 6-5, over Tufts University Monday afternoon at Huskins Field.

At left: Matt Purnell

As the third of four Eastern (27-9) pitchers, Purnell (1-3) won his first game of the season by fanning four and allowing only two hits and a run in 3 1/3 innings before senior righty Michael Hepple (Newington) nailed down the win by striking out the final batter of the game in a 1-2-3 ninth for his third save.

Since being swept in a Little East conference home doubleheader by Rhode Island College  nine days ago, No. 18 ranked Eastern has won five straight. Ranked sixth in the most New England poll, released today, the Warriors have won four of six against teams ranked in this week's poll.

A loser of four straight, Tufts scored three unearned runs off sophomore righty Greg Porter (Mystic) and led 4-2 after five before the Warriors  struck for four runs in the sixth after there were two out and one runner on bases on three hits and two walks. Senior catcher Steve Cammuso (Rutland, MA)  extended his hitting streak to 16 by driving in the first run of the inning. After the tying run scored on a passed ball, Vaccarelli stroked his first career triple to plate Cammuso and sophomore leftfielder Adam Roderick (West Hartford), who had walked.

Purnell came on in the fifth to strand two runners with a strikeout after the Jumbos had scored once to take a 4-2 lead and allowed only one run before giving way to Hepple to start the ninth. Purnell allowed a single, walk and sacrifice fly in the sixth but struck out three and surrendered just one hit in the seventh and eighth.

Vaccarelli also had a sacrifice fly and finished with three RBI while junior first baseman Joe Balowski (Berlin) recorded his team-leading 22nd multiple-hit game with two singles. Sophomore shortstop Danny O'Connell (Braintree, MA) also had two hits  and has hit  safely in 25 of his last 28 games.  Cammuso has raised his batting average nearly 100 points to .291 during his hitting streak.

Eastern visits Amherst College Wednesday at 4 p.m. The Lord Jeffs are ranked seventh in New England.

 

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