Teams trade three-run innings in game stopped after eight due to darkness
MIDDLETOWN, Conn. -- The No. 23 Eastern Connecticut State University baseball team extended its unbeaten streak against Wesleyan University to 18 when the teams played to a 3-3 tie called after eight innings due to darkness Monday afternoon at Dresser Diamond at Andrus Field.
At right: Matt Purnell
Wesleyan ended a 17-game losing streak against Eastern Connecticut that dates back to 1994 when Wesleyan last won, 7-6, in the nearly unbroken series that began in 1984. But the Cardinals could not start a winning streak of their own as Eastern (12-5-1) , ranked sixth in New England, made it 18 straight without a loss against Wesleyan. Eastern leads the series, 24-4-1.
The tie is only the seventh in 1,921 games for Eastern in 45 years under head coach Bill Holowaty.
The scheduled 4 p.m. start was pushed back a half-hour due to earlier rain. That prevented the teams from getting in at least nine innings in the otherwise briskly moving contest. Each team scored all its runs in one inning as the Warriors took a 3-0 lead in the top of the second and Wesleyan rallied to make it 3-3 in the bottom of the third against Eastern senior lefty Tom Darby (Middletown, RI). The teams played five scoreless innings from that point on until the game was called.
Eastern took advantage of three Wesleyan errors to plate three unearned runs in the second to put Darby in position to run his career record to 10-0. Eastern had just one hit in the frame, that a leadoff infield single by senior second baseman Drew Accomando (Monroe), who extended his hitting streak to eight, tops on the team this season. He was the only Warrior with two hits in the game as Eastern managed six safeties in the contest. The Warriors had no RBI as the first run scored on a passed ball and the next two on Wesleyan errors with two outs.
Wesleyan picked up four of its seven hits in the third inning as freshman Jordan Farber knocked in the first run with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to right. When the relay throw attempted to get a Wesleyan runner going to third went wide of the bag, the Cardinals got their second run. An RBI single up the middle by senior Stefan Sundseth brought in the tying unearned run. Wesleyan had two players with a pair of hits in the contest - sophomores Andrew Yin and Donnie Cimino. Each scored a run in the third inning.
After Eastern wasted a two-out double by Accomando in the top of the seventh, Darby was lifted with the score tied and was replaced by junior righty Pat Barnett (Windsor) to start the seventh. Barnett encountered immediate trouble but was bailed out when sophomore catcher Chuck Vogt (Windsor Locks) threw out his first baserunner in an Eastern uniform by gunning down Donnie Cimino attempting to take third with one out.
Most effective for Eastern out of the bullpen was senior righty Matt Purnell (Stafford Springs) as he got the final five outs in order, striking out one and lowering his ERA to 1.69. He has fanned 23 and walked only one in 16.0 innings this season.
Allowing two earned runs, Eastern's staff lowered its ERA to 2.50
Wesleyan got excellent relief work from sophomore Sam Elias. He went 3 1/3 innings to finish the game, giving up two hits and no runs with four strikeouts. Freshman Peter Rantz began the game and logged 4 1/3 innings of work, allowing four hits and three unearned runs with two strikeouts and four walks.
Eastern stranded six runners over the final five innings while Wesleyan left four on base.
Eastern hosts Montclair State University Tuesday at 4 p.m.