KEENE, N.H. – No. 23 University of Southern Maine clubbed 14 extra-base hits, including four home runs, while sweeping a Little East doubleheader from the Keene State College baseball team by scores of 14-1 and 12-3 on Saturday afternoon at Owl Athletic Complex.
- Keene State: 14-18, 4-8 LEC
- No. 23 Southern Maine: 24-8, 9-3 LEC
How It Happened – Game One
Southern Maine put up six runs in the first inning and never looked back in the game one victory. Devin Springfield and Abe Grainger each had doubles for Keene State, while Nate Rossi went 1-for-3 and drove in a run. The top five in Southern Maine's order went 11-for-21 and drove in seven runs. Dylan Hapworth was 3-for-4 with a solo home run and a double. Andrew Olszak had a two-bagger and drove in three runs, while Devin Warren had a pair of hits and two RBIs.
USM batted around and more in the first inning to take a big early lead. A single and double had KSC in immediate trouble before a ground out and error led to a pair of runs and a 2-0 Huskies lead. Three consecutive singles, including run-scoring ones from Olszak and Anthony Degifico, helped plate two more. Southern Maine was not done yet, as another miscue led to a run and a double to left from Sam Troiano made it 6-0.
Keene State went down 1-2-3 in the first against USM starter Dalton Rice (2-1) and the Huskies tacked on more runs in the ensuing innings. In the second, consecutive two-out doubles from Zach Quintal and Degifico made it 8-0. More two-out production from the Huskies came in the third, as a single from Warren scored Hapworth and a two-run double from Olszak put USM in double-digits (11-0).
The Owls recorded their first hit of the game when Grainger doubled to lead off the bottom of the third. A walk with one down put two on, but that rally fizzled. The USM offense temporarily slowed and KSC got on the board in the sixth when Rossi's single scored Springfield, but the Huskies answered with three on a solo homer by Hapworth and two sacrifice flies to go up 14-1.
Andrew Houde (4-3) started and took the loss for Keene State, going the first 2.2 innings. Greg Poggioli tossed 3.1 scoreless innings in relief of Houde before Noah Rizio pitched the seventh for his first appearance since March 12. Rice went all seven innings for Southern Maine to earn the win, striking out seven.
How It Happened – Game Two
The second game was much the same story, as Southern Maine scored early and often, hitting three home runs to complete the sweep. Grainger went deep for Keene State, going 1-for-2 with two runs batted in and a pair of walks. Springfield had two hits, including a double, while Christian Bourgea had a hit and drove in a run. Jake Dexter had two doubles, a home run, and a walk in a perfect 4-for-4 showing for USM. Quintal doubled, homered and went 3-for-5 with four RBIs, while Warren also had a trio of hits.
Southern Maine scored four runs with two outs off Isaac Keehn (1-3) to take control right away. After a ground out and a strike out started the game, back-to-back doubles from Dexter and Olszak put USM up 2-0. Another hit and a pair of errors helped add two more runs before the side was retired. In the second, an RBI double from Warren made it 5-0.
From there, the Owls chipped away and got within three runs after three full innings. In the second, Grainger worked a leadoff walk and eventually scored after consecutive base hits from Mac Struthers and Bourgea. USM answered that run with Dexter's blast in the top of the third, but KSC hit back with a dinger of their own, as Grainger's two-run shot to left made it 6-3.
The scoring slowed from there, but the Owls did have a chance to get even closer in the fifth when Springfield doubled and in the sixth when Grainger took ball four to start the frame, but both opportunities went for naught.
Still leading 6-3, Southern Maine put the game away by scoring in each of the final three frames. In the seventh, a sac fly from Olszak put USM up four and an ensuing two-out double to left from Quintal scored two more, making it 9-3.
A solo homer from Hapworth in the eighth and a two-run blast that curved around the foul pole for Quintal in the ninth set the final margin.
Keehn started and went the first two innings for Keene State, allowing three earned runs while striking out two. Brandon Heath and Ryan Sliwinski made multiple-inning appearances out of the bullpen. Gage Feeney (6-1) went seven innings for USM, picking up his sixth win.
Around the Horn
- Grainger's homer was the second of the season for him, matching the high watermark he set as a freshman. Overall, he has 13 extra-base hits and 21 runs batted in this year.
- 15 of Southern Maine's 26 runs on the day were scored with two outs.
- Keene State had not played the Huskies since May 9 of last year, when they upset then-No. 20 USM 5-4 in the first game of the Little East Conference Tournament.
- Playoff Permutations: Keene State will have to win both ends of their final doubleheader of the season to clinch a spot in the upcoming conference tournament. Keene State is currently tied for sixth in the conference with UMass Dartmouth at 4-8. Plymouth State is in fifth at 5-7. The Owls will need to finish ahead of one of those two teams outright, as the tiebreakers do not favor KSC. Plymouth has a better record than Keene against both UMass Boston and Southern Maine, while UMass Dartmouth would finish higher than KSC in the event of a tie due to having a better head-to-head record against Eastern Connecticut. A three-way tie among the teams would not favor the Owls.
- Keene State will celebrate Senior Day on Friday, May 4, when they host UMass Dartmouth for their final two regular season games beginning at 12:00 pm.
- Southern Maine will entertain MIT for a non-conference twin bill that starts at 12:00 pm tomorrow, April 29.