MANSFIELD, Conn. - The Keene State College baseball team scored four times in the fifth to go in front for the first time and went on to post a 6-5 win to salvage a split of a conference doubleheader at Eastern Connecticut State University Saturday afternoon at Eastern Baseball Stadium. The Warriors likewise used a big fifth inning to blow open what turned out to be a 13-2 win in the day's first game.
- Keene State: 6-10, 2-3 LEC
- Eastern Connecticut: 9-7, 3-2 LEC
How It Happened - Game One
Eastern Connecticut had their hitting shoes on right from the jump, and put an end to the suspense of the opener of two games by hitting back-to-back home runs, including a grand slam, in a six-run fifth inning. Tom Meucci doubled and drove in a run in a 2-for-3 effort to lead KSC's offense, while Connor Walsh was 1-for-3 with an RBI. David Sevigny had a hit in two at bats and walked.
The Warriors, playing on their home field as the visiting team, wasted no time getting on the board, as Alexander White singled, stole second, and scored on Luke Broadhurst's triple to center. John Mesagno followed with a single that scored Broadhurst as KSC found themselves in a 2-0 hole before recording an out. A fly out and double play avoided further damage, and the Owls got one run back in the bottom half of the first against ECSU starter Jordan Muchin when Sam Czel walked and swiped second before scoring on consecutive groundouts.
The Warriors got the run back in the third to go up 3-1 before holding Keene State off the board in the bottom half despite the Owls putting the first two runners on via a walk and a single, and pulled away quickly with two runs in the fourth and four in the fifth. The fifth inning uprising was punctuated by consecutive home runs, including a grand slam from Broadhurst that made it a 10-1 lead. Mesagno's dinger and a pair of runs in the sixth capped ECSU's scoring before KSC got a run in the seventh.
Brandon Heath (1-2) started for the Owls and allowed five runs (three earned) over 3 1/3 innings, while Muchin improved to 3-1 after allowing two runs in a seven-inning effort.
How It Happened - Game Two
A big fifth inning was a key again in game two, but this time it was Keene State who scored four times to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 5-2 lead and eventual win to salvage a split. Walsh had two more hits (2-4) and drove in another run, while Czel also went 2-for-4 and scored twice. Six other Owls had one hit, with Ryan Linehan and Sevigny each driving in a run. Broadhurst added to his big day with a 2-for-4 showing, including a triple and a home run for ECSU, with the long ball providing his team a 1-0 edge in the top of the first.
Keene State tied the game with a pair of singles and some small ball in the bottom of the second. Connor Longley and Tyler Gammie opened the frame with base hits and were moved up on John Tarascio's sacrifice bunt. Linehan scored Longley to tie the game at one with a grounder to second. Eastern Connecticut hit right back in the very next half inning when Dale Keller walked with one out and scored on Alexander White's double. Trailing 2-1 into the bottom half of the fifth, the Owls came to life, taking their first lead of the day. Tarascio started the rally with a double, and eventually scored on Sevigny's one-out single to make it 2-2. After the Warriors got the second out, three consecutive singles from Czel, Mac Struthers, and Walsh chased ECSU starter John Parker and put the Owls in front 4-2. A fifth run came across on a wild pitch later in the inning.
Broadhurst and Mesagno again answered immediately, as a triple and a double in succession to start the sixth made it a two-run game, and Alex Parkos' sac fly had the Owls' lead quickly down to 5-4. However, that was as close as they got. Ryan Sliwinski relieved KSC starter Shawn O'Donnell in the sixth and retired the first six batters he faced to maintain the lead. After the Owls manufactured a run in the seventh on Czel's infield single, Struthers' sacrifice bunt and Walsh's fly out and ECSU's subsequent error to go up 6-4, Sliwinski ran into trouble with two outs in the eighth. Broadhurst walked to start the frame and stayed at first when the next two were retired, but a passed ball moved him to second and eventually hurt, as the Warriors got back within 6-5 on a run-scoring single. KSC closer Connor Johnson came on and allowed a single, but then got Owen Marica to fly to left to strand two and preserve the lead. He also worked out of trouble in the ninth after a single and a stolen base started the inning. With pinch-runner Jake LeFevre at second representing the tying run, Johnson picked up a strikeout before getting the top two in the order, White and Broadhurst, to ground to third and fly to left, respectively, to seal the win and his third save of the season.
O'Donnell improved to 2-1, allowing four runs over five innings while striking out two. Sliwinski followed with three Ks over the next 2 2/3 innings. Parker (1-3) allowed five runs over 4 2/3 innings for Eastern.
Around the Horn
- The Owls are 6-2 when scoring six or more runs this season. KSC also is hitting .317 with runners in scoring position.
- Walsh went 3-for-7 with two RBI on the day and has raised his average to .300 on a seven-game hitting streak.
- Keene State had not win in Mansfield since 2012, when they beat then-No. 5 ECSU 8-7.
- KSC is slated to make their Owl Athletic Complex debut on Tuesday, April 2 against Castleton University at 3:30 pm.
- Eastern Connecticut visits Wheaton College (Mass.) tomorrow morning, March 31, at 11:00 am.