KEENE, N.H.--During the summer of 2018, the Keene State College Department of Athletics and Recreation will be looking back at some of the memorable and historic moments from the year that was 2017-18.
At No. 10, we remember KSC's comeback against UMass Dartmouth in a doubleheader opener on May 4, the final day of the regular season. The Owls and Corsairs were meeting to decide the final berth in the Little East Conference tournament; Keene State needed to win both games to get in, while the Corsairs needed just one victory.
Keene State had taken the lead in the second, as Abe Grainger, Christian Bourgea, and Mac Struthers all walked to lead off the frame. After the next two batters were retired, John Tarascio drew KSC's fourth free pass of the inning to put KSC in front.
Keene State starter Brandon Heath kept the Corsairs without a hit over the first three innings, but UMD struck in the fourth. Baker's one-out homer tied the game and, later, after Jose Vasquez (single) and Pat Vartanian (error) reached, Michael scored both with a two-run double to right for a 3-1 Corsairs lead.
UMass Dartmouth appeared to put the game out of reach in the sixth when they tagged the KSC bullpen for three home runs and five runs total. A solo shot from Knell with one out was just the beginning, as after a walk to Vartanian, Michael's blast to center made it 6-1. Ramirez followed with a blast of his own as UMD went back-to-back. The Corsairs tacked on another when Josh O'Neil scored on a wild pitch.
Trailing 8-1 and without a hit until there were two down in the sixth, the first ten reached as the Owls erupted for a ten-run seventh inning. The frame started with three straight singles from Longley, David Sevigny and Tarascio, the last of which scored a run. UMass Dartmouth then lifted starter Ben Lodge, but three consecutive relievers failed to get an out. The uprising continued with Devin Springfield's RBI knock to right and Nate Rossi's base hit to center as the Owls drew within 8-4. Consecutive walks forced home another run before three straight hits gave KSC the lead. Struthers' two-run double to left tied the game before Longley ripped a single to right that gave the Owls a 9-8 advantage. UMD finally recorded the first out of the frame, but KSC eventually tacked on two more, going up 11-8 on a run-scoring wild pitch and a bases loaded walk.
The Corsairs made things interesting when they plated a run in the eighth and put the tying run in scoring position in the ninth, but Sevigny and the Owls closed the door. In the final frame, Vartanian doubled and Michael singled as UMass Dartmouth threatened by putting the first two on. They made it 11-10 with a sacrifice fly and got a single from O'Neil to put the tying run in scoring position, but a fly out and a routine fielder's choice sealed Keene State's victory.
To summarize: Keene State sent 16 batters to the plate, recorded eight hits, drew five walks, and had nine RBI in the frame. Seven Owls came to the plate twice in the inning, and four of them (Connor Longley, Connor Walsh, Nate Rossi, and Tarascio) all reached twice in the frame, include two hits in the inning by Longley. Quite the comeback, indeed.