NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass.--The Keene State College baseball team fell in a pair of close Little East Conference games, 5-3 and 8-7 at UMass Dartmouth on Saturday afternoon.
- Keene State: 8-13, 1-3 LEC
- UMass Dartmouth: 13-10, 3-1 LEC
How it Happened - Game One
Another strong performance on the hill from Michael Crimi went for naught as the Owls gave up a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Crimi (3-1) tossed his fourth complete game of the season, striking out nine in eight innings. Mac Struthers and Devin Springfield each had three hits, and Connor Longley had two.
The game was scoreless until the bottom of the fifth inning, when the Corsairs took a 2-0 lead on a two-out, two-run home run from Josh O'Neill. The Owls cut the deficit in half in the top of the seventh when Struthers singled up the middle and moved to second on a wild pitch, before scoring on Longley's single through the right side.
Zach Courier's pinch-hit sacrifice fly in the bottom half of the inning gave UMass Dartmouth a 3-1 lead, but the Owls tied the game in the top of the eighth. John Tarascio drew a one-out walk, and scored on Springfield's double to left-center. Springfield took third on the throw to the plate, and touched home on Tom Meucci's single to right-center.
The lead went back to the Corsairs in the bottom of the inning, as Nate Tellier and Erick Ramirez both singled with one out, before Tellier scored on a passed ball and Ramirez on a wild pitch. The Owls had the tying run at the plate as Connor Walsh singled with two outs in the top of the ninth, but pinch runner Sam Czel was stranded when Christian Bourgea popped out to third base to end the game.
How It Happened - Game Two
Tarascio was 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBI, and Czel also went deep, but the Owls' rally fell just short in the top of the ninth.
The Corsairs jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning when Ramirez doubled and Mike Knell homered to left off of KSC starter Andrew Houde. After Taylor Cacciola was hit by a pitch, Ezequiel Sanchez walked before Kenny Michael hit the second home run of the inning for UMass Dartmouth, a three run shot to left. Tim Coppinger relieved Houde and limited the damage by retiring the next two runners.
Keene State hit back with two homers of their own in the top of the second. Bourgea singled through the right side with one out before Tarascio went deep off of Corsairs' pitcher Dylan Collett, and Meucci singled to set the table for Czel, who slammed his first homer of the year over the left field fence.
UMass Dartmouth's Josh O'Neill led off the bottom of the second with a solo shot to left, but the Owls tied in the top of the third when Tarascio had a 2-RBI single to right-center.
The offense slowed down for both teams after that, but the Corsairs did go ahead for good in the bottom of the fifth on Knell's RBI single, and added what proved to be a vital insurance run in the sixth on Tellier's RBI single.
Walsh led off the eighth by reaching on an error, and a wild pitch put pinch runner Zach Rollins into scoring position. Tarascio singled him over to third, but Springfield hit into an inning ending 4-3 double play. The Owls did bring home one run in the ninth as Meucci led off with an infield single to short and moved up to second when Czel was hit by a pitch. Struthers hit into a fielder's choice and an error brought in Meucci, but Nate Rossi hit into another fielder's choice and Longley grounded out to short to end the inning.
Coppinger (0-3) was the tough-luck loser, striking out six in 5.1 innings of relief. Jeff Lunn tossed the final 2.1 innings, scattering one hit.
Around the Horn
- Crimi now has 45 strikeouts this season in six starts, which is just outside the top 10 in school history. He's on pace to strike out 83 this season, which would be the third highest single season total in school history, behind only Bill Williams' 109 Ks in 2000 and Cody Dube, who struck out 84 in 2016.
- It was the first time Keene State has homered twice in a game since Bourgea went yard twice against Southern Maine on April 30, 2016.
- Tarascio joined Bourgea and Rollins as players with 4-RBI games for the Owls this season. Rollins did so against Rhode Island College last weekend, and Bourgea knocked in four runs against Stockton College during the Owls' trip to Florida during Spring Break.
- Keene State continues with its fourth game in three days, as the Owls will head to Tufts University for a 1 p.m. start on April 9.
- UMass Dartmouth plays Babson College on Monday at 3:30 p.m.