May 9, 2002
KSC, West. CT Advance In LEC Baseball
|MANSFIELD, CT – For the first
time in the six-year history of the Little East Conference Baseball
Tournament, the lower seeds have advanced in the winners' bracket
following the first day of play.|
In Thursday's second game, fourth-seeded Keene State College (23-16) defeated top-seeded and host Eastern Connecticut State University (30-8-1) for the third time this year on the Warriors' home field, 7-6. In the first game of the day, third-seeded Western Connecticut State University (18-19) won its season-high fourth straight game by holding off second-seeded University of Southern ME (25-14-1), 6-4.
Keene State will face Western Connecticut in Friday's winners' bracket in the four-team, double-elimination tournament at noon. At 3:30 p.m, Eastern and Southern ME – who have won all but one conference regular season and post-season tournament title – will square off in an elimination game. The third game Friday at 7 p.m. pits the Keene-Western loser against the Eastern-Southern ME winner. The Keene-Western winner advance to Saturday's championship round, needing one win to capture the title and gain an automatic berth in the 2002 NCAA Division III tournament, which gets underway next Thursday.
Keene, which became the first team in 13 years to sweep Eastern at home April 20, snapped the defending tournament champion's seven-game winning streak. Trailing 4-2, the Owls
scored four unearned runs in the sixth and added another unearned run in the seventh to hand ECSU righty Joey Serfass (NEWINGTON, CT) his first loss after seven wins.
As they had in an earlier win over Eastern, righties Buzzy Francis (BEDFORD, NH) and Ben Tyer (LEE, MA) teammed on the mound to give Keene its second straight win after
ending the regular season on a three-game losing streak. Francis allowed six hits and five runs (three earned) before giving way to Tyer, who closed out the win to gain his fourth save –
third against Eastern.
Tyer was charged with two runs that allowed Eastern to pull to within 7-6 in the bottom of the eighth. Tyer got the first two outs of the ninth before a pinch single put the tying run aboard. Eastern No. 9 hitter Jeff Funaro (MILFORD, CT) then doubled to the wall in left but pinch runner Jason Pekrul (BERLIN, CT) was thrown out at the plate to end the game on a relay from leftfielder Matt Orszulak (CAMPTON, NH) to shortstop Mike MAeur (WARWICK, RI) to catcher Doug Morse (NEWPORT, NH).
Trailing 2-0, Eastern scored four times in the fifth on one hit, two walks, a sacrifice bunt and an error but the Owls answered immediately with four of their own in the top ofthe sixth to re-gain the lead. 6-4. All four Keene runs scored after there were two out in the sixth. Singles by Justin Hickman (MONT VERNON, NH) and Eric Kilburn (KEENE, NH) opened the inning before Serfass got his first batters out in relief with strikeouts. An infield throwing error on Morse's ground ball loaded the bases and three runs scored when No. 9 batter Orszulak blooped a single just over the outstretched leap of Eastern second baseman Morgan Thompson (NORWALK, CT) that was thrown past third base from the outfield.