MANSFIELD, Conn. -- Sophomore Steve Colella (Leominster, Mass.) limited the high-powered University of Southern Maine offensive attack to just six hits and three runs, while junior Cory DeMedeiros (Fall River, Mass.) went 2-for-4 with three runs scored and a season-high five RBI to power the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth to an 8-3 victory over the nationally-ranked Huskies in Game 6 of the 2014 Little East Conference Baseball Championship tournament this evening at the Eastern Baseball Stadium.
The third-seeded Corsairs (21-20) will advance to face top-seed and host Eastern Connecticut State University (30-7) in a winner's bracket contest at 11 a.m. tomorrow morning, while two-time defending and second-seeded Southern Maine (29-11) will square off against sixth-seeded Rhode Island College (13-22) in an elmination game at 2:30 p.m.
Colella (5-1) won his fifth straight decision by pitching into the eighth inning, while DeMedeiros produced a three-run home run that gave UMass Dartmouth its first lead in the top of the third and a two-run double that keyed a three-run ninth inning.
Facing a team which leads the Little East with a .328 batting average, Colella settled down after surrendering the first two runs of the game in the second on a leadoff double by Chris Bernard (Scarborough, Maine) and run-scoring triple by Troy Thibodeau (Danvers, Mass.) that gave Southern Maine an early 2-0 lead.
DeMedeiros' three-run home run – which came after losing pitcher Tyler Leavitt (North Andover, Mass.) (7-3) retired the first two batters of the third – pushed the Corsairs into the lead. The Huskies tied the game in the fifth on a double by Jake Glauser (Goffstown, N.H.), single by No. 9 hitter Nick DiBiase (Portland, Maine) and infield ground ball by Paul McDonough (Wells, Maine), but the visitors responded with single runs in the sixth and eighth before putting the game away with three in the ninth.
With UMass Dartmouth leading 5-3 in the eighth, Southern Maine threatened by loading the bases with two out on two walks and a hit by pitch, but reliever Karney Boff (North Dighton, Mass.) ended the inning when the catcher, DeMedeiros, threw out Matt Verrier (Norway, Maine) on a squib in front of the plate and went on to record his third save.
Colella struck out six, walked three and hit a batter in a 128-pitch effort which featured 78 strikes. The sophomore right-hander retired five batters down in order between the second and fourth inning, including the setting down the side in the third. Boff threw 12 of his 19 pitches for strikes and retired the Huskies in order in the ninth to close out his second save of the conference tournament.
The top five batters in the Corsairs' order accounted for 10 of their 12 base hits. Junior Ryan Medeiros (Acushnet, Mass.) set the tone from the lead off spot with a 2-for-4 performance from the plate with a walk and two runs scored. Junior Alberto Vasquez (Roxbury, Mass.) went 3-for-5 with a RBI double and two singles, while classmate Ben Monteiro (Swansea, Mass.) also registered multiple hits (2-for-5) with a run scored and RBI.
Ranked second in the latest edition of the NCAA New England Region rankings and No. 12 in Division III, Southern Maine swept the Corsairs in North Dartmouth a month ago by the scores of 7-4 and 15-5.
Head Coach Bob Prince was an All-American at Southern Maine under Ed Flaherty. UMass Dartmouth won 21 games for the first time since 2004. Junior George Agostini extended his season-high hit streak to 12 games with a single tonight. Medeiros is one base shy of 100 total bases for the season.
A LOOK AHEAD:
Eastern Connecticut and the Warriors split a doubleheader on April 27 in Mansfield, Conn. with the Corsairs winning Game 1 10-6 and the hosts salvaging the split with a 5-4 win in 11 innings.