GORHAM, Maine -- Senior All-American Matt Cronin (Framingham, Mass.) tossed 6 1/3 scoreless relief innings to earn his fourth win of the season, as fifth-seeded UMass Dartmouth eliminated fourth-seeded Eastern Connecticut from the 2019 Little East Conference Baseball Championships with a 5-2 victory Saturday afternoon at Southern Maine’s Ed Flaherty Field.
The Corsairs, who improve to 19-20 overall, will take on second-seeded UMass Boston in either an elimination or championship round contest Sunday at 11:00 am, as the Beacons will meet top-seeded Southern Maine in Saturday’s final game. The Warriors finish their season at 23-18 with the setback.
Eastern Connecticut took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second on senior Alexander White’s (West Hartford, Conn.) two-run double to left center, and that score held up until the bottom of the fifth when senior Jack Harrington’s (Barnstable, Mass.) solo homer to right sliced UMass Dartmouth’s deficit in half. Junior Mike Knell (Dennis, Mass.) started a decisive seventh inning rally for the Corsairs by doubling off the third base bag and tying the game on junior Nate Tellier’s (Attleboro, Mass.) RBI single to left, and senior Pat Vartanian’s (Canton, Mass.) plated the go-ahead run in the ensuing at-bat with an RBI double down the left field line.
UMass Dartmouth added a pair of insurance tallies in the bottom of the eighth on a fielder’s choice and a throwing error, but the Warriors took advantage of an error and two singles off Cronin to load the bases with one out in their final at-bat. Tellier came on to record a strikeout and induce a fly ball to left to end the contest, as the Corsairs advance to the tournament’s final day for the second time in three years.
Vartanian and junior JR DiSarcina (Barnstable, Mass.) each had two hits on the day for UMass Dartmouth, as Cronin scattered four hits and fanned three to improve to 4-3 on the spring. Tellier collected his second save of the tournament and eighth of the season for the Corsairs, who collected nine hits on the afternoon.
Freshman Matt Malcom (East Lyme, Conn.) rapped out two of Eastern Connecticut’s eight hits in the setback, as senior Cole Ogorzalek (Portland, Conn.) allowed three hits and two runs in 1 2/3 innings of relief to fall to 2-1 for the Warriors.
Sunday’s matchup will be the second of the tournament between UMass Dartmouth and UMass Boston, as the Beacons bested the Corsairs in a walk-off 2-1 opening round 11-inning triumph on Wednesday.
(Photo Credit: Darryl Konicki, Little East Assistant Commissioner)