At left: Tommy McKenna (Photo by Katie Dulz)
MANSFIELD, Conn. - Senior righty Evan Chamberlain (Amston) pitched a four-hitter through seven innings and senior lefty Tom Darby (Middletown, RI) got a strikeout and ground ball to leave the bases loaded in the ninth as the Eastern Connecticut State University baseball team defeated Plymouth State University, 5-3, in the first game of a Little East Conference baseball doubleheader Saturday afternoon at the Eastern Baseball Stadium.
Plymouth (10-7, 1-1 Little East) rebounded for a 5-3 victory in Game 2, scoring the only runs it would need in a four-run fourth inning on an RBI single by No. 8 hitter Dave Hall and a two-out, two-run triple to right by lefty-hitting leadoff batter Steve Beard. Beard came on to score the fourth run on a wild pitch.
In the second game, Tucker Regan gave up only two runs on two hits, pitching into the fifth before Josh Young came on for his first win of the season. In a game where all of the runs were scored in the first six innings, Spencer Webb nailed down the victory. Webb pitched the final two scoreless innings, escaping from a ninth-inning jam to record his third save by retiring the potential tying run on a double play started by shortstop Brandon Cox and ending the game with a fly ball to center.
In the Plymouth win, Beard, Dan Armstrong, Brian Thompson and Hall all had two hits, with Beard plating two runs with his fourth-inning triple.
Ranked No. 23 nationally, Eastern (12-5, 1-1Little East ) earned its third straight victory in the opener despite being held without an earned run and stranding ten runners. Eastern staked Chamberlain (4-0) to a 3-0 lead in the fourth and Chamberlain departed on the long end of a 4-0 lead before the Panthers rallied by scoring three times in the eighth on singled by Hall and Cosgrove and Beard's long home run to right.
The Warriors scored their three fourth-inning runs on RBI singles from freshman DH Pete Gonski (East Lyme) and junior second baseman Tommy McKenna (Lexington, MA) and a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch and added single runs in the sixth on junior third baseman Mike Vaccarelli's (Wolcott) sacrifice fly and single run in the ninth on sophomore No. 9 hitter Chuck Vogt's (Windsor Locks) first hit and RBI in an Eastern uniform.
Trailing by two, Plymouth chased Eastern senior closer Matt Purnell (Stafford Springs), loading the bases on two singles and an error. Darby, making his first relief appearance of the season, recorded his first career save by getting a called strikeout and retiring Beard on a game-ending ground ball to second.
On the afternoon, McKenna had three hits and drove in his first three runs of the season, and senior centerfielder Mike Riemer (Ellington) reached four times with two hits and two walks and scored twice.
Beard had four hits and was credited with five of his team's seven RBI. Armstrong and Thompson each had three hits.
Eastern visits Wesleyan University Monday at 4 p.m.