WORCESTER, Mass. - The Keene State College baseball team found the chillier weather in New England to their liking on Wednesday, as they rode timely hitting and a pair of home runs to a 9-7 win over Clark University at Granger Field in their first game outside the state of Florida.
- Keene State: 4-7
- Clark: 7-7
How It Happened
KSC never trailed and got contributions from up and down the lineup, with all nine starters picking up at least one hit in the non-conference victory. Sam Czel (1-4, HR, 2 RBI, R, BB) and Connor Longley (1-3, HR, SF, 2 RBI, 2 R, BB) each went deep for the Owls, while John Tarascio was 2-for-3 with an RBI, walk and run scored. Tom Meucci also chipped in a pair of hits, one RBI and one run, while Ryan Linehan drove in two. Derek Lefebvre went 2-for-5 with a homer and three runs batted in for Clark, while Dylan Horn was 3-for-5 and drove in two.
The Owls struck in the opening frame after Mac Struthers reached on an error and moved to third on Connor Walsh's single before scoring on Longley's flyout to right. The Cougars generated a threat of their own in the bottom half, but KSC starter Shawn O'Donnell stranded a pair, and his offense later added to the lead in the top of the third. Meucci, one of six Owls hitting over .300 on the season, began the inning with a single to center and came around when the very next better, Czel, cracked his fourth homer of the season, making it 3-0. Clark got two runs back immediately when Zach Kelley singled and scored on Lefebvre's blast, but Keene State continued to tack on runs in the ensuing innings. In the fourth, two key two-out hits plated a pair. David Sevigny's double to left scored Tarascio, who earlier reached on a single, and Sevigny then scored on Meucci's single to right center, making it a 5-2 game. Longley got in the long ball action in the fifth, and KSC carried a four-run lead through five after Isaac Keehn fanned two in a scoreless inning.
Clark edged closer in their half of the sixth, as a pair of walks came around to score on Horn's two-run single. Now leading 6-4, the Owls got out of further trouble in that frame and immediately hit back with three runs of their own. Struthers' one-out double got things going and, after the second out, Longley walked to put two on. Following a pitching change, Tyler Gammie greeted reliever Daniel Davidoff with a single to load the bases ahead of Tarascio's free pass, which forced in a run. Linehan capped the uprising with a base hit up the middle, scoring two for a 9-4 edge. Will Dolaher struck out a pair while putting up a shutdown inning in the bottom of the seventh, but the Cougars had a final push in the eighth. A single and two walks filled the bases, and Kelley then walked to push across Clark's fifth run. Lefebvre's base hit and a run-scoring passed ball made it 9-7 and put the tying run in scoring position with one out, but KSC stopped the rally right there, as Connor Johnson quickly worked out of the jam after striking out James Huber and Kai Herko. He worked around a one-out walk in the ninth to record his second save, as Andrea Casabianca struck out looking and Horn flied to center to end the game.
Brian Vieira (1-0) pitched a scoreless fourth and got the win, while Sean Savage (1-1) took the loss.
Around the Horn
- Czel now has four home runs. Entering the day, that number would tie him with 23 other players for 19th nationally. He has also driven in 14 runs.
- KSC has six lineup regulars hitting .303 or better on the season.
- Owls pitching struck out a season-high 11 in the game and has at least seven Ks in five of the last six games.
- Keene State has won three of the last four meetings with Clark.
- The Owls open up Little East Conference play at No. 22 UMass Boston on Saturday, March 23. The twinbill against the preseason conference favorite begins at 1:00 pm.
- Clark starts NEWMAC action with two at No. 21 Babson College on the same day at 12:00 pm.