One game behind leader at start of weekend, Warriors finish fourth in LEC
Steve Bizzaro (at left)
GORHAM, Maine -- Sophomore John Carey had four hits and three RBI to help the University of Southern Maine Huskies sweep No. 21 Eastern Connecticut State University, 4-2 and 5-1, in Little East Conference baseball action Saturday afternoon at the USM Baseball Stadium.
The sweep extended the Huskies' winning streak to a season-high seven games and improved their overall record to 23-16. By virtue of the sweep, the Huskies won the LEC regular season crown for the second time in four years and will host the conference's six-team, double-elimination championship tournament that will start Wednesday morning.
The Warriors had their six-game winning snapped with the first-game loss. The Warriors finished the regular season 28-11 overall and 8-6 in LEC play.
The Warriors will be the fourth seed in the upcoming tournament.
Heading into the weekend, Eastern had a chance to win or share its 12th regular-season LEC title in 16 years. The Warriors shared second place in the conference standings on Thursday with Keene State College and Rhode Island College, one game behind Southern Maine. On Friday, Keene swept UMass Dartmouth at home and Rhode Island split at UMass Boston. Thus, after being swept, the Warriors landed in fourth place in the final standings, three games back of Southern Maine, two behind Keene and one behind 2011 LEC tournament champ Rhode Island College.
The conference record is the worst in six years for Eastern, which won last year's regular-season title and shared the crown in 2010. The last time the Warriors finished with as many as six conference losses they won the LEC tournament in 2006, hosted by Southern Maine as the No. 3 seed.
There was good and bad news for Eastern resulting from the sweep. The bad news is that the Warriors missed out on a chance for at least a share of the LEC regular-season title and will open the tournament against No. 3 seed Rhode Island College, a team which won last year's LEC tournament at Eastern. After losing 15 in a row to Eastern, the Anchormen have beaten the Warriors the last four times the teams have met
The good news is that Eastern has won the LEC tournament the last three times that it has been hosted by Southern Maine (2001, 2006, 2009).
Eastern will face Rhode Island in the third of three games Wednesday. With an opening win the Warriors would play in the third game Thursday against the winner of a Wednesday game between No. 2 Keene State College and No. 5 UMass Boston. A Wednesday loss would drop Eastern into an elimination game Thursday. The Warriors would play the second game of the day against the winner of Wednsday's game between No. 1 Southern Maine and No. 6 Plymouth State University.
Eastern closed out the regular season with six straight road games, having won the first four.
For Eastern, junior Mike Riemer (Ellington) led an 11-hit attack in the opener with three hits. Junior Joe Balowski (Berlin), sophomore Danny O'Connell (Braintree, MA) and rookie Steve Bizzaro (Wappingers Falls, NY) each had two hits. Senior Evan Chamberlain (Amston) started on the hill and was saddled with the loss after lasting just one-third of an inning.
Senior catcher Steve Cammuso (Rutland, MA) had a 17-game hitting streak snapped in the first game when he grounded out four times and flew out once in five plate appearances. Cammuso began a new streak with an infield single in the seventh inning of the nightgap.
In the second game, Bizzaro and sophomore Adam Roderick (West Hartford) had two hits. Senior right-handed starter Jim Dimon (Seymour) pitched into the seventh inning allowing six hits and one earned run while striking out four. An infield throwing error in the fourth inning resulted in two unearned runs against Dimon.
Carey had a key RBI single in the Huskies' three-run first-inning uprising in the opening game, and had a pair of RBI singles and a steal of home on a double steal in the nightcap. His steal of home in the fourth inning put the Huskies in the lead for good.
Rookie Jake Glauser was the Huskies only other repeat hitter in the opener getting a double and two singles.
Senior right-hander Ben Ives picked up his eighth win of the season without a loss by going seven innings allowing 10 hits and three walks while fanning three. Junior southpaw Nick Douglass earned his sixth save of the year going the final two innings.
In the second game, four USM hurlers combined to limit the Warriors to seven hits and one unearned run. Senior Dustin Stanton, the second pitcher used, picked up his first win of the season, going 3 1/3 innings. Douglass and sophomore Forrest Chadwick combined to get the final five outs. Sophomore left-hander Logan Carman started and went four innings giving up only one hit and the unearned run.
Carey, juniors Tucker White Brett Barrett and sophomore Matt Verrier each had two hits in the second game. Verrier had the only extra base hit, a double, in the game.
After spotting the Warriors a 1-0 lead in the opening inning when Roderick scored on a fielder's choice, the Huskies took advantage of two hit batters and three hits to push three runs across. Senior David Ricker opened the inning being hit by a pitch, and Glauser followed with a single. White doubled home Ricker and sent Glauser to third. Junior Nick Grady was clipped by another Chamberlain pitch to load the bases. Chadwick brought home Glauser with a groundout, and Carey singled in White to end Chamberlain's day.
USM picked up an insurance run in the fourth as Verrier walked, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, and scored on Glauser's double.
The Warriors got a run of Ives in the fifth to close the gap to 4-2. Balowski, sophomore T.J. Larivee (Salem, MA) and O'Connell strung together consecutive singles to produce a run, but Ives escaped further damage as the Huskies turned an inning-ending double play.
Douglass had an eventful two-inning save putting two Warriors aboard in each inning, but was able to get the key outs.
The Warriors took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Bizzaro singled and moved to second on a wild pitch. He advanced to third on an infield error, and scored by beating the relay throw when the Huskies left home plate unattended after putting out sophomore Kyle Tehan (Oakville) during a rundown between first and second.
Carey tied the game in the fourth driving in Grady, and helped the Huskies take the lead when he and Barrett worked the double steal.
The Huskies added to their lead with a single run in the seven inning as Barrett scored on sophomore Matt Powers' groundout. The Huskies plated two more in the eighth inning on Carey's RBI single and Barrett's successful squeeze bunt.
Douglass came on to getting an inning-ending lineout into a double play in the eighth, and Chadwick got three straight fly ball outs in the ninth to give the Huskies the sweep.
USM Sports Information contributed to this game account