DANBURY, Conn.—Western Connecticut State University (28-8-1, 10-4 Little East) jumped out to a pair of big leads and held on, to hand UMass Boston softball (12-23, 2-10 Little East) a Little East Conference doubleheader sweep at the Westside Complex.
After averaging 2.3 runs per conference game in their first 10 Little East games, the Beacons scored 15 runs Friday afternoon, but still fell short by the scores of 12-8 and 11-7.
Freshman catcher Gia Raczkowski (Stoneham, Mass.) led the Beacons offensively for the second-straight day, with five hits in seven at-bats and a team-high five runs batted in. Junior Kelsey Svenson (Oxford, Conn.) and Lauren Mitsiaris (Taunton, Mass.) each matched Raczkowski with five hits apiece, with Svenson adding two runs and two RBI.
Game One: Western Connecticut State 12, UMass Boston 8
After falling behind 9-1 through four innings, UMass Boston came all the way back to cut the deficit to 9-8, before a three-run sixth inning helped the Colonials hang on for a 12-8 game on victory.
Junior Nina Wojtkiewicz hit for the cycle for Western Connecticut with four hits in four at-bats and two runs and two runs batted in. The junior led off the contest with a home run, added a single in the second, an RBI triple in the third and added a one-out double in the fifth-inning.
Raczkowski did her best to match Wojtkiewicz, as the Beacons' freshman finished 3-for-4 with a single, two doubles and a career-high five runs batted in. Kristina Bove (Medford, Mass.), Mitsiaris and Svenson all matched Raczkowski with three hits. Bove tacked on two runs and a run batted in the loss.
Wojtkiewicz's lead-off shot was the first of several big extra-base hits for the hosts in the opening three frames. Western Connecticut State struck for four runs in the first, tacked on a fifth in the second and then Kylee Ruther added a big two-run home run in the third, as part of a three-run inning.
UMass Boston finally got on the board in the fourth, as Mitsiaris singled down the right field line, with Toni Scola (Worcester, Mass.) coming home to score on an error by the first baseman.
The Colonials answered back with a run of their own to push the lead to 9-1, but the Beacons started to put the pressure on Allie Sabith in the fifth.
Needing at least one run to keep the game alive, UMass Boston loaded the bases with three straight singles from Svenson, Bove and Kaitlyn Morse (Arlington, Mass.). Raczkowski followed with a bases-clearing double to right-center field to easily score all three runs, cutting the deficit to 9-4 in the process.
The Beacons kept the Colonials off the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth thanks to a double play, setting up another big inning with the bats.
With the bases loaded once again and no outs, Bove drove in Mitsiaris with an infield single to make it 9-5 in favor of the hosts. Morse followed with an RBI groundout that scored Dutton and UMass Boston cut the deficit to 9-8 on a two-run double from Raczkowski, that plated Svenson and Bove.
With all the momentum in their favor and reliever Emily Gray (New Bedford, Mass.) pitching well, the Beacons' committed two costly two-out error that allowed Western Connecticut to push the lead back to four, at 12-8.
With two on and two out, a Beacons' error allowed a run to score and the inning to continue. One batter later, Brittany Virgulto singled to right-center field, with two more runs coming in to score thanks to a botched play in the outfield.
Emily Cintorino shut the Beacons down in the seventh to earn her first save of the year, as Sabith hung on for her 14th victory, despite allowing 14 hit and eight runs, seven earned, over 5.1 innings.
Michelle Zullo (Everett, Mass.) took the loss for UMass Boston, after allowing 11 hits, eight runs, seven earned, over 2.2 innings.
Game Two: Western Connecticut State 11, UMass Boston 7
Game two would follow a slight different pattern, as the Beacons jumped out to an early lead, before finding themselves in too big of a hole to overcome.
Haley Dutton (Milton, Mass.) and Svenson each recorded a pair of RBI for the Beacons in game two, while Mitsiaris and Lyndsey Capra (Lowell, Mass.) each chipped in with a team-high two hits and two runs.
Julia Bocek and Kristen Sliman both finished with three RBI to lead the Colonials, while Cintorino carried her momentum over from game one to move to 12-2 on the year. Cintorino went the full seven innings, allowing 10 hits and seven runs, three earned.
Zullo was the most successful UMass Boston pitcher, as the Beacons' ace allowed just five hits and one earned run over the final 3.1 innings. Gray took the loss after allowing four earned runs over 1.1 innings.
UMass Boston took their first and only lead of the day in the top of the second with a three-run frame. With the bases loaded and one down, Dutton belted a double to right field to plate Scola and Capra. The double was the first extra-base hit of Dutton's career and it also marked the first multi-RBI game of her career as well.
Svenson followed with an RBI groundout to give UMass Boston a 3-0 lead, but it wouldn't even last for a full inning.
Western Connecticut responded with a four-run bottom of the second, as Maegan Rodriguez, Sliman and Jessica Caturano each delivered RBI base hits.
The Colonials tacked on six more runs in the third inning, with Bocek delivering the big blow-a two-out, three-run double that occurred after a Beacons' error extended the inning.
Trailing 10-3, the Beacons added two runs of their own in the top of the fourth, thanks to a pair of Colonials' errors. Scola and Mitsiaris each scored on back-to-back Western Connecticut errors, but the Beacons failed to cut into the deficit further, as they left two runners on.
Western Connecticut added a single run against the Beacons in the bottom of the fourth, before Zullo shut the Colonials down over the next two frames.
UMass Boston's comeback effort finally started to gain some steam in the seventh. Raczkowski singled to left field and was pinch-run for by Sarah Keene (Lowell, Mass.). Keene's former AAU teammate Capra drove Keene in from first with an RBI triple and Capra was able to scamper home on an error by the right fielder. Keene's run was the first of her career.
Cintorino settled down from there though, as she retired two of the final three batters, to help the Colonials stay within a game of first place in the Little East standings.
UMass Boston will look to keep their playoff hopes alive Sunday when they host Keene State College starting at Noon. The Beacons will need to sweep the Owls in the Beacons' regular-season finale and then for UMass Dartmouth to sweep Keene State Monday, to earn their program-record fourth-straight LEC Tournament appearance.