Balowski ends 0-for-18 slump with two hits and two RBI in 8-2 victory
At left: Mike Riemer
MANSFIELD, Conn. - All-New England senior first baseman Joe Balowski (Berlin) snapped an 0-for-18 slump with two hits and two RBI and junior pitcher Pat Barnett (Windsor) pitched 2 1/3 scoreless relief innings for his first career win when the No. 23 Eastern Connecticut State University baseball team downed Manhattanville College, 8-2, Tuesday afternoon at the Eastern Baseball Stadium.
In the midst of a stretch of 13 home games in 15 contests, Eastern (10-4) scored the final six runs of the game, breaking a 2-2 tie with two runs in the fifth with a two-out rally punctuated by senior centerfielder Mike Riemer's (Ellington) two-run double to straightaway center field, then added three runs in the seventh on Balowski's two-run double to right and a bases-loaded walk.
Barnett (1-0) gained his first career win as the second of four Eastern pitchers, who combined to allow only eight hits and two walks, with seven strikeouts. Barnett replaced junior righty Michael Pendergast (Farmington) at the start of the fifth inning with the score tied 2-2, and faced the minimum six batters over the next two innings. He allowed only one hit while striking out one, walking one and hitting a batter.
Junior third baseman Mike Vaccarelli (Wolcott) improved his team-leading batting average to .434 with three singles (he also reached on an error) in Eastern's 13-hit attack. He scored two runs. Freshman DH Pete Gonski (East Lyme) singled, doubled and walked and scored a run and upped his batting average to .545 (6-for-11).
Defensively, Eastern handled 44 chances in the field without an error - its first errorless game since the season-opener. Vaccarelli, junior shortstop Brendan Lynch (Wethersfield) and senior second baseman Drew Accomando (Monroe) combined on 11 assists.
In his first start of the season, Pendergast gave up only six hits and two earned runs in four innings, fanning one without a walk. Senior righty Matt Purnell (Stafford) closed out the win by striking out the side in the ninth.
Manhattanville (3-13), which features 21 freshmen and sophomores on its roster, was led offensively by junior shortstop Hans Arias and senior rightfielder and cleanup hitter Sean Ferguson. Arias had three singles and Ferguson singled and doubled and scored both of his team's runs. The Valiants lost their seventh straight.
Eastern hosts Roger Williams University Thursday at 4 p.m.