Vita's 12th Inning RBI Single Leads Owls Over Warriors 4-3
GORHAM, Maine 5/11/12 – After blowing a save in the bottom of the eighth inning, Keene State College pitcher Tim Quagliaroli (Windsor Locks, Conn.) threw 4.2 innings of scoreless relief, and sophomore second baseman Nick Vita (Spofford, N.H.) ripped an RBI-single up the middle in the top of the 12th, to give the Owls a 4-3, extra innings victory over Eastern Conn. State at USM Baseball Stadium on Friday morning on Day three of the Little East Conference Championship tournament.
"We were able to hang on and kept playing hard in extra innings," said KSC head coach Ken Howe. "That's what good teams do."
With the victory KSC avoided playing again on Friday, and will square off against the winner of Eastern Conn. State and Plymouth State on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. The loser of the Panthers and Warriors game on Friday will be eliminated from the LEC tournament.
"That was a really big win for us," said Vita. "We get more and more confident as we get deeper into this tournament."
Cruising into the bottom of the eighth, Owl senior starter Tim Thiesing (South Grafton, Mass.) retired the first batter on a groundout. After giving up a single to left field and a walk, Coach Howe pulled Thiesing for Quagliaroli, who had pitched the Owls out of a similar situation on Wednesday afternoon.
"Thiesing pitched well today and was pounding the strike all game," said Howe. "As with other times this season he deserved a better result that what actually happened."
After inducing a fly-out for the second out of the inning, Warrior shortstop Danny O'Connell (Braintree, Mass.) scored on a Quagliaroli wild pitch to make it 3-2. The very next batter T.J. Larivee (Salem, Mass.) singled to left-centerfield, plating Gavin Lavallee (New Milford, Conn.) to even the game at 3-3, and force the game into extra innings. "Situations like that is what a closer lives for, but I made some mistakes," said Quagliaroli who has a team-leading four saves on the year. "I never had a doubt that our lineup would get us some runs if I just kept them off the board."
Keeping the Warrior lineup in check, Quagliaroli only allowed one more hit the rest of his appearance, and improved his record to 6-1 on the season.
Eastern Conn. reliever Jim Dimon (Seymour, Conn.) was matching zero's on the scoreboard with Quagliaroli, retiring nine KSC batters in a row before allowing a leadoff single in the top of the 12th from senior centerfielder Kyle Morrill (Auburn, N.H.). On a hit-and-run play, Morrill advanced to second on a groundout, setting the stage for Vita's two-out, game-winning RBI-single and sending the Owls into the weekend as the only team 2-0 in the tournament. "I was just trying to relax and forget my earlier at-bats," said Vita, who went into the 12th 0-for-4 on the day. "The second time around we picked up his (Dimon's) off-speed pitch better, and I saw one I liked and hit it into center."
"We had a lot of opportunities in the game," said Howe. "But I told the guys that good teams just keep battling, and Nick (Vita) came up with the clutch hit for us in the 12th."
KSC jumped on the scoreboard first, as Morrill had a one-out triple in the top of the first inning. Senior right fielder Erik Bergstrom (Enfield, Conn.) would earn the RBI, with a groundout to give the Owls a 1-0 lead.
Eastern would tie the game in the bottom of the fourth, on an RBI-single to right-centerfield from Mike Vaccarelli (Wolcott, Conn.) to even the contest at 1-1.
In the top of the fifth, freshman shortstop Tanner Chase (York, Maine) would lead off the inning with a double to right-centerfield. After a sac-bunt from freshman catcher Chuck Vogt (Windsor Locks, Conn.) advanced Chase to third, junior third baseman Greg Bates (Salem, N.H.) would hit an RBI single passed the drawn-in infield, for the 2-1 lead.
Senior designated hitter Peter Burgio (Bolton, Conn.) would add an insurance run in the seventh, as he would hit the base of the wall in left field with a two-out double, scoring Bates for the 3-1 advantage.
Morrill, Burgio and Bates each finished 2-for-5 for the Owls in the win.
Larivee and Vaccarelli were the only Warriors with multiple hits, each finishing with two and a RBI apiece.
Dimon took the loss for ECSU, going 5.1 innings in relief, allowing the one run on four hits while striking out three.