Down by four runs early, Warriors twice close gap to one in setback
MANSFIELD, Conn. -- The Eastern Connecticut State University baseball team spent Thursday afternoon trying to climb out of an early hole, but was never able to get over the hump, losing for the first time to Salve Regina University, 7-6, at the Eastern Baseball Stadium.
At right: Freshman rightfielder Pete Gonski records the first out of the game in Thursday's 7-6 loss to Salve Regina at the Eastern Baseball Stadium. (Photo by Frank Poulin)
Trailing by four runs after three innings, Eastern (13-5) twice closed the gap to one, but couldn't pull even in the non-conference as Salve (13-5) won for the eighth time in ten games and first time after three losses in their series with Eastern. Playing at home for the ninth time in their last ten games, the Warriors dropped to 6-4 overall on their home field.
Down 4-0, Eastern scored two runs in the fourth on a two-run, two-out single by senior second baseman Drew Accomando (Monroe) and added an unearned run in the fifth on a two-out single by sophomore leftfielder Joe Perez (North Branford) which was made possible by the only error of the game when an outfield fly ball was dropped.
After the Seahawks responded with three runs of their own in the sixth, Eastern answered with in the eighth, batting around and getting a two-run home run to left-center with none out by senior centerfielder Mike Riemer (Ellington) - his team-leading third of the season. Down by two, the Warriors proceeded to load the bases on singles by junior shortstop Brendan Lynch (Wethersfield) and junior DH Gavin Lavallee (New Milford), and Perez was hit by a pitch to force in the team's sixth run. Junior righty Kevin Lambert, who entered the game to face Lynch, got an inning-ending ground ball, then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his second save.
Freshman righty Alex Croce was credited with his first collegiate win in his first start, pitching into the sixth. He allowed five hits without a walk and three runs (two earned) with two strikeouts.
Batting .350 as a team, Salve collected 13 hits, seven coming through three innings when it burst to a 4-0 lead. Eastern junior righty Pat Barnett (Windsor) kept the Warriors close, however, pitching three scoreless innings after replacing junior righty Greg Porter (Mystic) with two runners aboard and none out in the third. Barnett surrendered a one-out double to Joe Haley, but settled down to pitch two scoreless innings before departing with the Warriors trailing 4-3 after five.
At right: Mike Vaccarelli dives back to first ahead of Alex Croce's fourth-inning pickoff attempt. (Photo by Frank Poulin)
The top four hitters in the Salve lineup combined for nine hits and four RBI and scored four runs. Junior catcher and cleanup hitter Dominic Di Sano had three hits and drove in two runs with a two-out, two-run double in his team's three-run sixth inning. Junior leftfielder Tyler Colby reached base four times with three hits and a walk and scored two runs.
Senior first baseman Joe Balowski (Berlin), Riemer and Accomando - batting 3-4-5 in the Eastern order - each had two hits. Riemer scored twice as Eastern fell to 3-3 in one-run games this season.
Eastern returns to Little East Conference play Saturday, hosting defending LEC champion University of Southern Maine in a noon doubleheader.