The odds were not in the Owls’ favor on April 29. The Keene State College (KSC) baseball team lost both games they played against No. 25 University of Southern Maine (USM) in the Little East Conference (LEC) doubleheader.
The Owls started with two hits, one from KSC sophomore Mac Struthers and another from John Tarascio. However, three errors equated in four unscored runs.
On the Huskies’ side, Sam Stauble started them strong with a 1-0 lead in the first. The points quickly added up to 4-0 in the second inning after a bunt single from Devin Warren and a two-RBI hit by Andrew Olszak.
It was the strength of the underclassmen that brought the score to 4-3 in the third inning. KSC first-year Sam Czel played back strong on the Owls’ side with a bunt single and run home after KSC first-year Tom Meucci’s double hitter to right-center. Meucci then went on to third on KSC sophomore Mac Struthers’ left single, eventually scoring on a wild pitch. Struthers followed suit, scoring on KSC sophomore Connor Walsh’s sacrifice fly to center. In the fourth inning, Keene State missed the chance to tie the game when Tarascio singled and stole second. Shortly after, KSC sophomore Nate Rossi reached on a fielder’s choice, but a hit from Meucci went into a 6-4-3 inning, ending double play.
The Huskies added five more points in the innings that followed. The fourth inning had both Zack Quintal with a single hit and score on an error and another RBI was completed by Warren in the fifth. It was the seventh inning that brought No. 25 Southern Maine to a successive lead. Three more runs came out of bases-loaded walk and a two-RBI single from Quintal. It was a tough loss for the Owls’, especially for KSC senior Michael Crimi. He struck out three times in 4.2 innings. Additionally, KSC senior Nate Pedersen let three runs go unearned in two innings. This resulted in a final score of 3-9 with USM taking the win.
The Huskies started strong with three scores in the first two innings, but Keene State struck back with a five-run third inning. Meucci and Struthers each had a single play leading up to KSC sophomore Connor Longley, bringing them home with a double down the left field line.
KSC first-year Connor Walsh walked, followed by KSC junior Christian Bourgea slamming a home run down right center for a 5-3 lead. This was Bourgea’s third home run of the year. The Huskies brought the game to a tie after a single to the right from Warren in third and Dylan Hapworth with a RBI double in the fourth.
The Owls were reluctant to let this fly. Czel opened the sixth inning with an infield hit before stealing second and moving to third on a left flyout from Meucci. Rollins walked shortly before Longley had a triple threat to deep right, bringing the Owls back on top with a 7-5 advantage in the sixth.
The sixth came to an end with a 1-6-3 double play from Stauble and KSC senior Alan Schiff. But the seventh inning was not on Keene State’s side with the Huskies bringing the game to a tie with 10 batters to the plate and Paul McDonough hitting a two-run homer. The seventh inning was when the Huskies struck gold with six scores in the bottom of the inning, eventually taking the lead with a 11-8 win. The ninth welcomed another home run from Bourgea, but the game ended with Tarascio grounding out to short.
The Owls are scheduled to play Friday, May 5 at home against Eastern Connecticut State University. They have to win at least one of the doubleheaders against the Warriors to secure a spot in the LEC tournament. If accomplished, this will be the first time the Owls are back in the tournament since 2013.
Dorothy England can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org