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Baseball: Purnell is ABCA All-America

Senior righty is also a All-America second-teamer

Darby gains third-team All-New England recognition

purnell72_0294.jpgdarby_jersey_72_1241.jpgWILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University senior right-handed relief pitcher Matt Purnell (Stafford Springs) has been named second-team Division III All-America by both the American Baseball Coaches' Association (ABCA) and

At left: Matt Purnell  

Above: Tom Darby

The All-America honors follow Purnell's earlier selections as the Division III Pitcher-of-the-Year by the New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association (NEIBA),  first-team All-New England Region by  NEIBA and, and first-team All-Little East Conference relief pitcher. Senior lefty pitcher Tom Darby (Middletown, RI), a first-team All-Little East pick earlier this month, joined Purnell on the All-New England Region team, earning a spot on the third team.

As a first-team NEIBA senior selection, Purnell is eligible to compete in the 2013 NEIBA New England All-Star Game on Monday, June 3 at LeLacheur Park at Lowell, MA. The game pits the Division II-III All-Stars against the Division I All-Stars.

The All-America selection caps Purnell's steady climb through a four-year career which began with exclusive work on the sub-varsity pitcher as a freshman.

The ABCA All-America selection for Eastern gives the program at least one such honoree in 12 of the last 16 years. Purnell becomes the program's 54th ABCA All-America since 1970, 20th in the last 16 years. Prior to this year, Scott Chiasson - later reaching the major leagues with the Chicago Cubs - was the program's last closer to gain All-America distinction, that coming during the 1998 national championship season.

Purnell becomes Eastern's fourth All-America selection this spring, following first-team NFCA softball selection Arielle Cooper (Mystic) and honorable mention USILA men's lacrosse picks Mike Devine (Cheshire) and Tyler Fresen (Newington).

Purnell appeared in 29 of the team's 44 contests this year. His appearance total established season records for both appearances and relief appearances in a season. The 6-foot-2 inch, 200-pounder was 6-1 with a 1.63 ERA and nine saves (third-most in New England) and 51 strikeouts and only five walks in 38.2 innings. He shared the staff lead in wins and topped all pitchers in ERA and saves, the latter category one shy of the season record.

This season marked the first as the team's fulltime closer for Purnell, who did not have a save in 37 relief appearances throughout his sophomore and junior seniors. He was 1-0 with a 3.30 ERA in 30.0 innings over 20 relief appearances as a sophomore, and 1-3 with a 3.97 ERA in 34.0 innings over 19 appearances (17 in relief) as a junior.

This year,  Purnell gave up earned runs in only six appearances, surrendering more than one in a game only once. He struck out 17 batters before issuing his first walk in his ninth appearance and recorded saves in three consecutive games in mid-April in conference victories over Western Connecticut State University and in both ends of road sweep at Rhode Island College.

In his career, Purnell appeared in 68 games - fourth-most among pitchers in program-history - with an 8-4 record, nine saves, a 2.89 ERA, 106 strikeouts and 31 walks in 102 2/3 innings.

Darby shared the staff lead in wins with Purnell -- also losing one decision - and led all starters with a 2.97 ERA. Darby led the staff with 67 strikeouts (against just 16 walks) and shared the team lead with 11 starts. After pitching only 1 2/3 innings in his first two seasons due to arm problems, Darby concluded his career with a 12-1 record and 2.99 ERA with 118 strikeouts and only one home run allowed in 114 1/3 innings.

Eastern won 30 games for the 29th time since 1973, finishing 30-13-1. Ranked seventh in the final New England poll, Eastern won two and lost two as the No. 2 seed in the Little East Conference tournament earlier this month.










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