Howe Gets Win No. 550 As Baseball Sweeps Colonials

Connor Longley (34) hit the go-ahead home run in the eighth inning of game two.
Connor Longley (34) hit the go-ahead home run in the eighth inning of game two.
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KEENE, N.H.--Strong pitching performances from seniors Michael Crimi and Tim Coppinger gave the Keene State College baseball team a sweep of Western Connecticut State University, 9-1 and 8-4, in a Little East Conference doubleheader at Owl Athletic Complex on Saturday.

Records

  • Keene State: 10-15, 3-3 LEC
  • Western Conn. State: 11-12, 1-5 LEC

Quotable

"We've been working hard, and it's nice to come out with a couple wins today.  Crimi and Coppinger both pitched very well, and when we get some hitting with that we can be tough to beat."  --Head Coach Ken Howe

"I think our lineup is as good as anyone in the league; when we hit like we're capable of, I like our chances." -- Sophomore right fielder Connor Longley

How it Happened - Game One

Crimi allowed two hits in eight innings, striking out seven to improve to 4-1.  The senior was backed by the offense of Connor Walsh (3-for-5, four RBI), Connor Longley (3-for-4), and Zach Rollins (2-for-3, two walks, four runs).

Clete LoRusso led off the game with a walk, and scored on Bill Buscetto's double to left-center, but that would be all the offense that Western Connecticut would get in the opener.  Keene State took the lead for good as Walsh and John Tarascio singled in runs in the bottom half of the inning.

Walsh made it 3-1 by singling in Rollins in the bottom of the third, and the Owls added three more in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Longley, an RBI fielder's choice by Walsh, and a single from Christian Bourgea.

Crimi only allowed one other hit, a single to Frank Vartulli in the fourth, but got George Bielizna to hit into a 4-6-3 double play erase the threat.  The senior worked out of another jam in the sixth when he loaded the bases by hitting three batters, but Longley snared Kyle MacLean's sinking liner to end the inning.

Mac Struthers had a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth, and Tom Meucci scored on a wild pitch before Walsh drove in his fourth run with a single.  Nate Pedersen tossed a scoreless ninth to cement the win.

How it Happened - Game Two

Longley hit a tie-breaking solo home run in the bottom of the eighth to put KSC in front for good.  Tarascio was 4-for-4 with a two-run homer, while Devin Springfield had three hits and two RBI and Meucci and Bourgea also had two hits.

Coppinger made his start since March 16 and struck out a career high nine batters in 6.2 innings, while Jeff Lunn (1-0) earned the win with 2.1 innings of 2-hit relief.

The Owls grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second when Bourgea cracked a one-out double, took third on Tarascio's single to right, and came home on Springfield's chopper right in front of the plate.

The teams traded runs in the fourth when LoRusso singled and scored on Vartulli's infield hit, but the Owls went back in front when Bourgea reached on a fielder's choice and scored on Springfield's single to right.

Western Conn. State had four straight hits to start the sixth, including RBI singles by EJ Lavoie and Vartulli, but Coppinger limited the damage by striking out Zach Piroh and Dave Palladino, and getting pinch-hitter Kyle MacLean to fly out to center.

Keene State went back in front in the bottom half when Walsh reached on an error and Tarascio hit his second home run of the year to straight away center, but Western Connecticut tied it in the seventh when Joe Costa singled and eventually scored on a wild pitch.  

Longley's solo shot to left to open the eighth gave the Owls the lead for good, and Bourgea followed with his first of the year to make it 6-4.  Nate Rossi and Tom Meucci added RBI doubles in the frame to complete the scoring.  

Around the Horn

  • The game one win was victory No. 550 in the career of longtime KSC coach Ken Howe.  His 551 career victories are the 29th most in NCAA Division III history.
  • The sweep marked the first time the Owls captured both ends of an LEC doubleheader since April 21, 2013, when the Owls beat UMass Boston 4-3 and 13-4.
  • The three KSC home runs in game two were to all three fields of the park; Tarascio's to straight-away center, Longley's to deep right, and Bourgea's an opposite field shot that cleared the fence in left.

 Up Next

  • The Owls host Plymouth State in a key LEC game on Tuesday, April 18, at 3:30 p.m.
  • The Colonials will host Trinity (CT) on Monday, April 17, at 5 p.m.