Solid pitching and five unearned runs spell 4-1, 4-3 Little East wins
At left: Chuck Vogt (Photo by David Santerre)
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The Eastern Connecticut State University baseball team scored five unearned runs and senior righty Matt Purnell (Stafford Springs) pitched a final inning of hitless relief to save both games as the Warriors swept Rhode Island College, 4-1, 4-3, in a Little East Conference doubleheader Saturday at Anchorman Field.
Eastern (21-8-1, 6-3 Little East) has won eight straight since being swept in an LEC home doubleheader to conference leader University of Southern Maine two weeks ago -- giving up only 11 runs in those eight contests -- and moves into sole possession of second place in the conference behind the Huskies (7-0), a game ahead of Keene State College and UMass Boston, who meet in a noon doubleheader at Keene Sunday. Rhode Island (8-23, 2-7 Little East) has been beaten in eight of its last ten, falling to 9-9 at home.
Junior righty Pat Barnett (Windsor), sophomore righty Chuck Vogt (Windsor Locks) and Purnell allowed a total of only one run on five hits over the final six innings after senior starter Evan Chamberlain (Amston) was lifted after three innings with the Warriors trailing 2-0 in the first game. The Warriors tied the game with two unearned runs in the fourth on a walk, two infield errors, junior DH Gavin Lavallee's (New Milford) sacrifice bunt and No. 9 hitter Tyler Caserta's (Stratford) RBI single.
Eastern went ahead in the fifth inning of the first game on a walk, singles by senior first baseman Joe Balowski (Berlin) and senior second baseman Drew Accomando (Monroe) and another infield error.
Vogt and Purnell combined to retire the final eight batters in order. Eastern four pitchers struck out nine and walked only two, none of the walks coming over the final seven innings.
Eastern improved to 18-4 against Rhode Island in the last 22 meetings when senior lefty Tom Darby (Middletown), Vogt and Purnell combined on a six-hitter without a walk in the nightcap, and Eastern wiped out an 1-0 deficit. The Warriors went ahead with two runs in the sixth on three consecutive singles from No. 9 hitter Nik Ververis (Plainfield), junior shortstop Brendan Lynch (Wethersfield) and junior third baseman Mike Vaccarelli (Wolcott), a passed ball and Balowski's run-producing ground ball. Eastern tacked on two more in the eighth on a walk, Caserta's sacrifice bunt, and RBI singles from Ververis and Vaccarelli.
Darby (5-1) fanned nine and spaced six singles and Darby, Vogt and Purnell retired the final eight batters in order. Vogt pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings in the twinbill, giving up one hit and no walks.
Vaccarelli and Lynch - batting at the top of the order - each had four hits in the doubleheader and Ververis had two hits and scored two runs. Purnell's two saves give him seven on the season in a staff-high 21 appearances. With the exception of the Southern Maine doubleheader - where the staff allowed 17 earned runs in 18 innings - Eastern pitching has a 2.29 ERA in the other seven conference games.
Eastern visits Western Connecticut Tuesday at 4 p.m.