WINTER HAVEN, FLA. . 3/10/13 – The Keene State College baseball team finally put it all together on Sunday, posting a 7-0 victory over the College of New Jersey in Winter Haven, Fla.
Senior Chris Crutcher (Londonderry, N.H.) tossed eight shutout innings and Owls bats collected a season high 13 hits in the game. Keene State (4-5) has put together back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
The right-hander limited the Lions (1-4) to five hits and struck out five to raise his record to 2-0. "I felt pretty good today. I put the ball in play and my teammates took care of things for me," said Crutcher. "MY infield behind me was outstanding. When you have guys clicking on all cylinders it makes the games easy."
"You can't ask much more from your starting pitcher, Crutcher gave us eight almost unhittable innings," said KSC Coach Ken Howe. "He kept the ball down and pounded the zone all afternoon.
Crutcher retired the first the first 10 batters he faced before sophomore Anthony Cocuzza singled in the fifth inning. He set the Lions down in the fifth inning to keep the game scoreless.
The Owls broke through with a run in the fifth when senior Greg Bates (Salem, N.H.) roped a one-out double to left center. He advanced on a fielder's choice and came home on junior Nick Vita's single down the right field line.
The Owls erupted for four runs on five hits in the sixth to open up a 5-0 lead. Bates delivered an RBI single and sophomore Tanner Chase (York, Maine) knocked in a pair with a line drive base hit to left-center. They would have added two more had it not been for outstanding defensive plays from CNJ pitcher Brendan Kelly. With runners at first and third and nobody, Keene attempted a squeeze play. Kelly hustled off the mound and flipped the ball with his glove to catcher Paul Searles to get the runner at the plate by a hair.
With the bases loaded and one out, freshman Billy Hartmann (Salem, N.H.) hit a high chopper off the plate to the right side. Kelly raced to his left, gloved the ball, and fired to Searles on the run to get the force play at the plate. It was the third consecutive putout at the plate for the Lions.
Anthony Cocuzza and Scott Kelly lined back-to-back singles to open the seventh. But a hot shot by senior Michael Murphy resulted in an unassisted double play by Chase to squash the rally.
KSC got it is final two runs in the bottom of the eighth Vita had an RBI single up the middle and later scored on a wild pitch.
Keene State plays a single nine-inning game against FDU-Florham on Monday (3 p.m.) at Winter Haven.
(Portions of the story courtesy of CNJ sports information)