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Baseball: Warriors Back in LEC Race

Sweep of UMD moves them within two wins of regular-season title

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NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. --  In the opener of a Little East Conference baseball doubleheader, senior righty Jim Dimon (Seymour) struck out a career-high 13 batters without a walk in the second complete game of his two-year career and Eastern Connecticut State University went on to a 6-3, 7-2 sweep of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Saturday at the UMD Athletic Complex.

At right: Jim Dimon

Eastern (26-9, 8-4 Little East) began the day in fourth place in the conference - two games behind Keene State College  and a game back of the University of Southern Maine and Rhode Island College - but moved into a three-way tie for second place with Keene State and Rhode Island after Saturday's play, one game behind leader Southern Maine. Southern Maine swept homestanding Keene State and Rhode Island split a home doubleheader with Western Connecticut.

A sweep at Southern Maine Friday at Gorham, ME in the regular-season finales would give Eastern at least a share of the regular-season crown. If the Warriors sweep, they would unofficially win the regular-season title outright and gain the No. 1 tournament seed if visiting Rhode Island splits with UMass Boston and Keene splits with visiting UMass Dartmouth Friday.

Dimon (3-0) outdueled UMass Dartmouth (14-21, 3-9 Little East) sophomore righty Karney Boff (4-4) in the opener, allowing seven hits and only two earned runs. In the nightcap, junior righties Andrew Merritt (Norwalk),  Evan Chamberlain (Amston) and Matt Purnell (Stafford Springs) combined on a six-hitter with ten strikeouts and two walks. Merritt (3-2) gained the win by giving up two runs (one earned) on five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts over the first seven innings.  Purnell fanned two batters in a 1-2-3 ninth.

With Eastern leading 2-1 in the first game,  sophomore  third baseman Mike Vaccarelli (Wolcott)  swatted a three-run home run after junior centerfielder Mike Riemer (Ellington) and senior catcher Steve Cammuso (Rutland, MA) opened the inning by reaching safely with a single and double, respectively.

Eastern completed its first sweep of UMass in four years in the second game when by scoring the final seven runs after the Corsairs had taken a 2-1 in the first by scoring twice after there were two out and none on on a walk, two singles and an outfield error.

Sophomore leftfielder Adam Roderick's (West Hartford) sacrifice fly tied the game in the second and sophomore shortstop Danny O'Connell (Braintree, MA) put the Warriors ahead for good, 4-2, with a two-run home run in the third. Sophomore DH T.J. Larivee (Salem, MA) doubled with two out and came home on O'Connell's second home run of the year.

Cammuso had three hits in the doubleheader to stretch his hitting streak to 15, with O'Connell and Riemer also collecting three and Vaccarelli, Larivee, Roderick and junior first baseman Joe Balowski (Berlin) registering two each. Balowski drove in three runs, as did Vaccarelli, with O'Connell and Roderick plating two each. Riemer doubled twice and Cammuso also reached twice on walks.

Eastern  visits Tufts University Monday at 3 p.m.

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