BOSTON, Mass. – Paced by three RBI from sophomore Mitch Baker (Braintree, Mass.), the sixth-seeded University of Massachusetts Dartmouth got out in front early and never looked back to tame the fifth-seeded Panthers in the first elimination game of the 2018 Little East Conference (LEC) Tournament.
Score: Corsairs 8, Panthers 3
Records: #6 UMass Dartmouth 24-14, #5 Plymouth State 16-19
How it Happened
In a game that meant win or go home, UMass Dartmouth could not have asked for a better offensive start to the ballgame, sending seven batters to the dish. The top two hitters in sophomore Nate Tellier (Attleboro, Mass.) and junior Chris Wood (Berkley, Mass.) reached via a single and walk, respectively, queuing up an RBI opportunity for sophomore Mitch Baker (Braintree, Mass.). The Corsair catcher would come through with three of them, proving the Mini Monster in left field as not monstrous enough for an immediate 3-0 lead. An inning later, junior Erick Ramirez (Boston, Mass.) quickly put the Corsairs in a spot for another score by singling, swiping second, and then slid over to third on the throwing error by catcher Cam Ruziak (Sterling, Mass.). Fellow middle infielder Josh O'Neil (Halifax, Mass.) successfully executed the suicide squeeze bunt, laying down the first-pitch delivery to extend the advantage to four.
In the field, O'Neil made a spectacular effort on a foul pop up in the third inning but ran out of room as he slid in hard to the chain-linked fence. On the very next offering, the second baseman used all of his 5' 8" frame to make a leaping grab and then firing over to first to double up runner Jimmy Zumolka (Londonderry, N.H.) to get out of the inning. In the home half of the fourth, the Corsairs capitalized on Panther miscues with two more runs. After O'Neil would lay down his second sacrifice bunt in as many tries, Plymouth second baseman Ryan Richard (Berlin, N.H.) made a wide throw home in his attempt to nab Ramirez trying to score. Tellier then followed up by hammering a hit off of Richard's glove to trot Curran home, padding the difference to six.
Plymouth was the beneficiary of the blaring sun, with Geoff Kayo's (Londonderry, N.H.) fly ball getting lost in the sky to allow the Panthers to empty its loaded bases to rapidly halve the deficit with a three-spot in the fifth. After the seventh inning stretch, senior Kenny Michael (Norwood, Mass.) would come through to provide more breathing room with a run-producing double that clanked off the left field padding to plate Baker. Junior Pat Vartanian (Canton, Mass.), who moved to third on the Michael extra-base hit, got to trot on home on a balk by pitcher Alex Libby (Freeport, Maine). Senior reliever Mac Curran (Lakeville, Mass.) tossed three extremely effective innings in place of starter Matt Cronin (Framingham, Mass.), locating 25 of his 35 pitches for strikes to earn the save. The southpaw was nearly perfect on the bump, allowing a lone hit while fanning three.
Inside the Numbers
- In the latest release of the NCAA Div. III New England regional rankings, the Corsairs come in at No. 5. Ahead are LEC foes UMass Boston and Southern Maine.
- Curran has made 23 appearances on the mound in his career with the squad, earning his first career save this afternoon.
- He is pitching to a 2.43 ERA thus far this year, besting his other two seasons on the rubber.
- Michael added yet another double for his team-leading 16 this year.
- The pitching staff hit the strike zone consistently against Panther sluggers, walking just two on the afternoon. UMass Dartmouth pitchers' lowest walk total prior to today was Apr. 21 versus Western Connecticut, when the Corsairs handily took care of the Colonials by a score of 15-1 in seven innings.
- With no errors committed in the elimination game, the Corsairs move to 5-2 on the season when they submit a clean fielding performance.
- UMass Dartmouth tallied eight hits to Plymouth's six, improving the Corsairs' record to 21-5 on the campaign when the Blue and Gold outhit the opponent.
- The Corsairs are now 8-1 when scoring six to nine runs, and 8-4 when they score in the first inning. When the squad scores first, like they did this afternoon, UMass Dartmouth has a 17-4 record.
#6 UMass Dartmouth will battle the loser of #2 Eastern Connecticut versus #4 Rhode Island College in Game Eight of the LEC tournament. The postseason clash will take place on Friday, May 11 at 2:30 p.m.