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Baseball: Barnett, Purnell Spell Relief

Pair allows only one hit in 6 1/3 innings in team's 3-2 comeback win

barnett72dpi_7430.jpgBRIDGEWATER, Mass. -The Eastern Connecticut State University baseball team got 6 1/3 scoreless innings from righty relievers Pat Barnett (Windsor) and Matt Purnell (Stafford Springs), and  rallied for two runs in the top of the eighth inning in a 3-2 non-conference victory over Bridgewater State University Wednesday afternoon at Alumni Park.

At left: Pat Barnett (Photo by Katie Dulz)

Bridgewater (11-9-1) scored single runs in the first two innings and chased junior righty starter Greg Porter (Mystic)  in the fourth before Barnett (2-0) got a strikeout to leave runners at the corners, then pitched three scoreless innings of one-hit base to set up Eastern (15-8-1) with an opportunity to win.

Trailing 2-1 in the eighth, the Warriors loaded the bases with nobody out on singles by senior first baseman Joe Balowski (Berlin) and senior centerfielder Mike Riemer (Ellington) and a bunt single by junior second baseman Tommy McKenna (Lexington, MA), and junior DH Gavin Lavallee (New Milford) knocked in the tying and go-ahead runs with a one-out single through the left side.

Purnell protected the team's fourth straight victory over Bridgewater and 13th in the last 16 games by retiring the final six batters in order, striking out the side in the eight and ending the contest with his fourth strikeout to record his fourth save. Purnell lowered his ERA to 1.66 and now has struck out 33 and walked only two in 21 2/3 innings. Barnett's ERA dropped to 1.32 - best among relievers.

Balowski was 4-for-5 to push his season batting average over .300 to .305. He is 12 for his last 30 (.400). Junior shortstop Brendan Lynch (Wethersfield) and Lavallee  each had three hits, with Lavallee's extending his hitting streak to seven.

Eastern took a 1-0 lead in its first at-bat on singles by Lynch leading off the game and Balowski and Riemer's sacrifice fly, but the hosts tied the game in the bottom of the first on three singles, a throwing error and wild pitch and moved out to a 2-1 lead with another run in the second when leadoff hitter Sean Riley's double plated No. 9 hitter John Garabedian, who had walked with two out.

Eastern's three pitchers combined on an eight-hitter and struck out nine with three walks.

Eastern returns to Little East Conference play Saturday with a noon doubleheader against Massachusetts Boston at Campanelli Stadium in Brockton, MA.


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