KEENE, N.H. – In a Senior Day doubleheader filled with wild momentum swings, the Keene State College baseball team wound up splitting with UMass Dartmouth on Friday afternoon at Owl Athletic Complex. The Owls stunned the Corsairs with a ten-run seventh to win game one 11-10 before UMD scored late to win the second game 9-2.
- Keene State: 15-19, 5-9 LEC
- UMass Dartmouth: 23-13, 5-9 LEC
How It Happened – Game One
Keene State saved their biggest inning of the season for a key time, as the Owls sent 16 men to the plate in the seventh, scoring ten times en route to an 11-10 come-from behind win in the opener. Seven different KSC batters recorded a hit. Mac Struthers went 2-for-4 with a double, two runs batted in and a walk. Christian Bourgea and Connor Longley each had a pair of hits and drove in a run, while six other Owls each had one RBI. Kenny Michael paced UMD's offense with a 3-for-4 day, driving in four with a double and a homer. The Corsairs went deep four times in the game, with Mitch Baker, Mike Knell and Erick Ramirez also doing so.
KSC took the lead in the second when they drew four walks, three in succession to start the frame. Abe Grainger, Bourgea, and Struthers each took ball four as the Owls loaded the bases. The next two were retired, but John Tarascio took another free pass for a 1-0 lead.
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.
How It Happened – Game Two
After being shut out over the first seven innings, the Corsairs scored nine times in the final two innings to win the nightcap. Longley went 1-for-3 with a run-scoring double and a walk. Bourgea also doubled and Sevigny had a run scoring single, but Keene State was limited to three hits overall, all coming in the second inning. Nate Tellier had four hits and drove in four to lead UMD's offense, while Ramirez went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.
After Keene State starter Isaac Keehn stranded four in the first two innings, the Owls struck for a pair of runs in the bottom of the second off UMD starter Matt Cronin, who entered the afternoon with the lowest ERA in the country. Bourgea's leadoff double started the frame and, after Struthers was retired, a two-bagger from Longley made it 1-0. The Owls added a second run when Sevigny scored Longley with a base hit to right.
Leading 2-0, Keehn continued to work in and out of trouble. UMD put the first two on and eventually loaded the bases with one down in the fourth, but a strikeout and 6-3 double play kept them off the board. They did the same in the fifth when a single and walk started the frame, but a sacrifice bunt failed as Keehn got the lead runner at third and then sent down the next two after that.
The Corsairs filled the bases in the seventh when a single sandwiched two walks, but a shallow fly to left and a bouncer to third had Keehn through seven scoreless innings. KSC had an opportunity to add to the lead in the seventh when Longley worked a leadoff walk and Tarascio reached on an error with one down, forcing Cronin out of the game. However, reliever Mac Curran (3-0) came in and induced a pop out and a grounder to short to end the threat.
UMass Dartmouth tied the game (2-2) with three consecutive hits to open the eighth, the last of which being a two-run double to center from Tellier. KSC avoided further damage for the moment when they struck out Michael and Curran to end the inning and keep the game tied.
After a quick eighth, the Owls were in immediate trouble in the ninth when Vartanian pulled a double down the left field line and Ramirez walked. A bunt single loaded the bases before Tellier came through for the second straight inning, this time a two-run single to left that put UMD ahead for the first time (4-2). The Corsairs tacked on from there, with a wild pitch and a two-run single from Knell making it 7-2.
Trailing 9-2, KSC went down 1-2-3 in the ninth as their bid for the needed sweep came up short.
Keehn started and went seven-plus innings for the Owls, striking out six. Ryan Sliwinski (0-2) took the loss.
Around the Horn
- Keehn's seven-inning performance was the longest of his just-completed freshman season. He finishes with 32 strikeouts and a 3.93 ERA in 36.2 innings.
- Before the first game, KSC honored seniors Bourgea, Grainger, Springfield, Rossi, Steven Zadravec, and Noah Rizio for their contributions to the program.
- Playoff permutations: Keene State was eliminated from the Little East Conference Tournament with the game two loss. The Owls needed to win both games in order to qualify. UMass Dartmouth clinched the No. 6 seed by virtue of having a better head-to-head record than KSC against second-place Eastern Connecticut.
- Keene State's season comes to an end.
- The Corsairs will take on top seed and eighth-ranked UMass Boston in the first round of the conference tournament on Wednesday afternoon, May 9, at Monan Park.