Rhode Island takes Little East Conference pair from host Eastern
MANSFIELD, Conn. - Seven errors by the Eastern Connecticut State University baseball team led to nine unearned runs as the Warriors fell from a share of first place into fourth place in the Little East Conference with 12-7, 8-0 losses to Rhode Island College Saturday afternoon at the Eastern Baseball Stadium.
At right: On Alumni Day, E-Club Hall of Famer Dick Grenier -- the first Eastern baseball player to sign a professional baseball contract -- threw out the ceremonial first pitch.(Cristina Danielson photo)
In losing to Rhode Island (20-11, 7-3 Little East) for the fourth straight time in two years (all at home) after winning 15 straight in the series, Eastern (22-8, 6-4) had an overall six-game winning streak ended. Rhode Island has won ten of its last 13.
Keene State (8-2) swept UMass Boston Saturday to take over sole possession of first place and Rhode Island and the University of Southern Maine moved into a two-way tie for second with identical records.
In the second game, junior righty David Hoey became the first Rhode Island pitcher to shut Eastern out since Dave Flanagan outdueled Eastern's Mike Stevens (who lost a one-hitter), 1-0, at Providence in 1977 - a span of 81 games in the series. Hoey (4-1) gave up nine hits with three strikeouts and one walk.
Rhode Island scored all the runs it would need in the opener with three in the first inning against Eastern junior righty Andrew Merritt (Norwalk). Senior first baseman Dan Hopkins and senior second baseman Joan Mustafa singled in the inning, and two walks and a wild pitch on a strikeout aided the Anchormen cause. Mustafa had four of his team's 11 hits and drove in two runs and stole two bases, with senior shortstop Kyle Allaire and senior catcher J.P. Stone reaching a combined total of five times and scoring two runs each.
After collecting two hits in the opener, Allaire broke the RIC program record with his 191st career hit - a single leading off the sixth inning of the nightcap.
Eastern had baserunners in all but one inning against Hoey, but the Anchormen played perfect defense and turned three double plays.
Leading 6-4 in the first game, Rhode Island scored three unearned runs in the seventh on one hit and two Eastern errors and three times in the eighth on three hits. Mustafa's two-run double highlighted the three-run eighth.
Mustafa had five hits and Allaire and senior Brent Hopkins four each in the doubleheader. Mustafa doubled and tripled and drove in four runs and scored three; Allaire reached seven times with four hits and three walks, scored four runs and plated two, and Dan Hopkins reached safely six times with four walks and two hits. Stone drove in three runs
Eastern junior centerfielder Mike Riemer (Ellington) and junior third baseman Drew Accomando (Monroe) both swatted their first career home runs in the first game. Sophomore catcher T.J. Larivee (Salem, MA) had four hits on the day and plated two runs; Accomando, senior leftfielder Steve Cammuso (Rutland, MA), Riemer and junior first baseman Joe Balowski (Berlin) all had three hits. Accomando drove in three runs and Larivee two and Balowski scored twice.
Eastern visits Western New England College Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.