April 9, 2011

Game One Box Score    Game Two Box Score

Providence, RI- Senior second baseman Ryan Walsh (Newton, MA) combined to go 8-for-10 with a pair of homeruns to lead the University of Massachusetts Boston baseball team in a spilt with Rhode Island College during Saturday's Little East Conference doubleheader at Anchorman Field. The Beacons took game one, 7-4, while the Anchormen salvaged the spilt with a 12-8 decision in game two.

UMass Boston (7-12, 2-2 LEC) cruised to the victory in the first game behind a stellar pitching performance from junior lefthander James Dalton (Apopka, FL) and a four hit game from Walsh.

UMass Boston spent most of the afternoon playing with the lead. After leading from wire to wire the first game, the Beacons pounced on junior starting pitcher Rob Rushton (Freetown, MA) in the first inning of the nightcap, scoring four runs to take an early lead. The Anchormen (7-12, 2-2 LEC) took two back in the bottom of the first thanks to key singles from junior first baseman Dan Hopkins (Cranston, RI) and junior infielder Mike Giustino (Wappingers Falls, NY).

RIC took a 2-0 lead in the fourth thanks to a pair of long solo home runs by first baseman Dan Hopkins (Cranston, RI) and left fielder Brent Hopkins (Cranston, RI). Dan went deep to right field to lead off the inning, while Brent launched his to left field two batters later. It was the third of the season for both juniors. The Anchormen added an insurance run in the sixth on senior catcher Justin Corso's (Cranston, RI) RBI double.

Trailing, 6-2, in the bottom of the third, the Anchormen began to swing momentum with a three-run frame. RIC touched up Beacon starter Daniel Heefner (Tracy, CA) for five hits in the inning, including an RBI double from Dan Hopkins, the only extra base hit of the inning. Heefner left the game after the third, allowing a total of five earned runs on eight hits, with four strikeouts and a walk.

The Anchormen drew even for the first time all day in the bottom of the fifth, when a two-run frame erased a 7-5 deficit. After senior designated hitter Gary Levesque (East Providence, RI) doubled down the right field line to lead off, Brent Hopkins quickly followed with a game-tying home run, his fourth of the season. Both runs were surrendered by freshman reliever Will Barrack (Lancaster, VA), who came on in the fourth.

The tie took Rushton off the hook for the loss. Rushton had a difficult game, allowing seven runs, five earned, on 11 hits, with two strikeouts and three walks. Tsoumakas entered in the sixth and stabilized the game for the Anchormen. The lefty took the win in relief (2-1), holding the previously white-hot Beacon lineup to just one earned run on four hits over three full innings.

The Beacons managed another slim, 8-7, lead entering RIC's half of the sixth, but the Anchormen soon took the lead in the bottom half. A one-out walk to Dan Hopkins followed by another double to Levesque ended the day for Barrack, who gave way to freshman righthander Gabriel Frankel (Monmouth Junction, NJ) with inherited runners at second and third. Before throwing his first pitch, Frankel immediately balked in Hopkins to tie the game. Brent Hopkins then singled in Levesque to give the Anchormen their first lead over the course of the afternoon's first 15 innings.

The Anchormen did not relinquish the 9-8 advantage at any point, sticking Barrack (0-3) with the loss. Barrack was pounded for four earned runs on six hits in 2.1 innings pitched, plus two walks.

RIC padded its lead with a single run in the seventh and a two-run eighth, thanks to a two-run homer from junior third baseman J.P. Stone (Narragansett, RI), his first of the season. The Anchormen scored runs in six of their eight times to bat, and had multiple hits in every inning but the second, when they were held hitless.

In a non-save situation, Lynch struck out the side around a single to slam the door in a scoreless ninth.

The early game told a far different story, as ace pitchers Dalton and Levesque traded goose eggs on the scoreboard in what was a pitcher's duel for the first seven innings.

Reigning 2010 Little East Pitcher of the Year Dalton, who took the win (3-2), dazzled the RIC lineup over eight full innings. The southpaw struck out 12 batters, allowed just one earned run, and was unharmed by five walks. Dalton carried a no-hitter into the fifth, when RIC caught a break on an odd-flying popup off the bat of Stone, which blew back from foul territory and fell between three Beacon defenders directly in front of home plate. Dalton did not allow a clean hit until the sixth, when Levesque singled through the left side. The Anchormen scored their lone run of the outing when a tiring Dalton allowed a wind-aided home run by junior shortstop Kyle Allaire's (Uxbridge, MA), his first, to sail over the left field wall.

Levesque turned in a fine game of his own, settling down quickly after allowing two of the first three batters to do all of the Beacons' damage of the first seven innings. Junior infielder Mike Mattei (Spencer, MA) started the game with a bloop triple inside the rightfield line and came in to score on a two-run blast by Walsh two batters later. Levesque kept the game at 2-0 all the way into the eighth, when he was done in by a fateful fourth trip through a potent lineup. Levesque took the hard luck loss (2-3) in 7.2 innings, allowing five earned runs on ten hits, striking out eight and walking one.

Held down by Dalton all afternoon, the RIC offense finally came alive after the Allaire home run in the eighth. Trailing 5-1, the Anchormen rallied to put runners at first and second on a pair of walks. With two away, senior catcher Justin Corso (Cranston, RI) blasted a line drive to deep left field that looked poised to cut the deficit in half. But sophomore left fielder Nick Grassetti (Agawam, MA) made a spectacular catch, diving backward toward the gap, to rob Corso of a likely two-run triple. Grassetti's grab proved pivotal in the ninth, when RIC's three run rally fell shy by three runs.

First Team All-Little East second baseman Walsh had a tremendous offensive doubleheader. The senior went a whopping 8-for-10 with 6 RBI and 18 total bases. He had both two doubles and a home run in each game, raising his long ball total to eight for the season. Grassetti enjoyed a 4-for-8 afternoon with a pair of RBI between the two games.

RIC's offensive day was led by Stone and Brent Hopkins, both of whom were 4-for-7 with a home run. Dan Hopkins went 4-for-8 with a double and a team-high five RBI. Levesque and Giustino had four hits apiece, including two doubles by the former and one from the latter.

On consecutive Saturdays, the Anchormen have managed splits with two of the Little East's three NCAA Tournament teams from 2010. Last Saturday, the Anchormen split a doubleheader with Keene State. Last year, UMass Boston won both the Little East Tournament and the NCAA New England Regional en route to the 2010 College World Series in Appleton, WI. In two weeks, the Anchormen host the third NCAA-bound Little East team from a year ago when they host Eastern Connecticut for a doubleheader on April 23.

UMass Boston is back in action on Tuesday, April 12 when they host the University of Southern Maine at 6:30 p.m. at Yetten Field in Waltham, MA for another LEC match up while the Anchormen return to the diamond on Tuesday afternoon, when they square off with UMass Dartmouth in a single conference game slated for 3:30 p.m. at Anchorman Field.

*Release content provided courtesy of RIC Sports Information Dept.