BOSTON, Mass.—Eastern Connecticut State used a seventh-inning comeback in game one and strong relief pitching in game two, to earn a Little East Conference sweep of UMass Boston softball Saturday afternoon at the UMB Softball Field.
Eastern Connecticut State University 2, UMass Boston 1
Eastern Connecticut State 6, UMass Boston 4
(UMass Boston 14-6, Little East 1-3)
(Eastern Connecticut State 5-11, Little East 3-1)
HOW IT HAPPENED
After Jess Greenspan (Rocky Hill, Conn.) shut the Warriors down for the first six innings, Eastern scored two runs on two hits and two errors in the seventh, to rally for a 2-1 win in the opener.
The Warriors raced out to a 6-1 lead in game two and hung on behind 3.1 strong innings of relief from Morgan Sanson.
Sophomore Roxanne Vento (Arlington, Mass.) went 3-for-4 with three RBI and a pair of doubles in the game two loss.
A pair of errors and leaving 11 left on base came back to haunt the Beacons, as they missed out on a chance to earn their first-ever win over Eastern in Boston.
After the first two batters of the frame reached on singles and moved into scoring position, the Warriors tied the game on a dropped fly ball and two batters later took the lead on an infield error.
The inning spoiled a tremendous outing from Greenspan. The Connecticut native allowed six hits and two runs, one earned, while striking out five in seven innings.
Senior Lauren Mitsiaris (Taunton, Mass.) paced the Beacons with two hits, while Taylor Pawlina (Woonsocket, R.I.) delivered an RBI single. Freshman Gigi Braga (Medford, Mass.) added a single and a run scored, and Ari Bilotta (Leominster, Mass.) went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks.
Senior reliever Samantha Valentine earned the win after going two innings, allowing just one hit and stranding a runner on second base. She replaced freshman lefty Jacky Arndt, who allowed six hits and one earned run in five innings of work.
Junior Jessica Seymour (3-for-3) and freshman Teresa Marchitto (2-for-3) combined to record five of Eastern's six hits and both played pivotal roles in the two-run seventh inning.
UMass Boston was constantly threatening through the first four innings, with six left on base, including the bases loaded in the second.
The Beacons finally got on the scoreboard in the fifth. Braga led off with a bunt single and moved to second on a Kaitlyn "KMO" Morse (Arlington, Mass.) single, and to third on a Vento flyout to the wall in right field. After Bilotta walked to load the bases, Pawlina singled through the right side to score Braga. Arndt got the next batter to pop up right back to the circle to leave the bases loaded for a second time.
UMass Boston would try to tack on a key insurance run in the sixth, but Valentine kept them off the board. Mitsiaris led off with a double and was replaced by pinch runner Kayla Harris (Cumberland, Maine). Harris moved to third on a one-out grounder but was left there to end the inning.
In the seventh, Seymour led off with a single and then just beat the throw to third base on Marchitto's single. Greenspan induced a fly ball to right-center from the next batter, but the ball was dropped allowing Seymour to scamper home with the tying run. With two runners in scoring position and no outs, Greenspan struck out the next batter for a key first out.
Pinch hitter Haleigh Cardello followed with a hard hit grounder on the infield, but the fielder booted the ball, as her attention was drawn to the runner at third. Greenspan struck out the next batter and then induced a fly out to end the inning.
Eastern Connecticut State jumped out to a 6-1 lead after three and the Beacons' comeback efforts were squashed by Warriors freshman reliever Morgan Sanson.
After finally breaking through against Valentine for four runs in the first 3.2 innings, Sanson shut the Beacons down for the final 3.1 innings. The freshman allowed just two hits and kept the score at 6-4 for her second save in as many outings. Valentine improved to 3-2, by allowing seven hits and four runs, three earned.
Offensively, Sara Pisanelli produced a pair of hits and three RBI, while designated player Kristyn Ryan went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and one RBI.
UMass Boston was paced by Vento, who finished 3-for-4 with three RBI and a pair of doubles. Pawlina and Morse each chipped in with two hits and one run scored. Braga ended game two 0-1 with two runs scored and three walks.
In the circle, Greenspan was chased after giving up six hits, including two doubles and five runs scored. Freshman Megan Hoben (Bedford, Mass.) pitched for the first time in two weeks and allowed just two hits and one unearned run in 4.1 innings.
UMass Boston took their second and final lead of the day in the bottom of the first. Braga worked a leadoff walk and moved to second on Morse's single to the shortstop. Braga easily raced home in the next at-bat, as Vento's RBI single skipped through the middle of the infield. With two runners on and no outs, Valentine induced two fielder's choices and a line out to keep the score at 1-0.
Eastern Connecticut State would quickly take the lead back in the second. Ryan opened the inning with a double and came in to tie the game on a Pisanelli double. With two down and Pisanelli on third, Samantha Bardos delivered an RBI single to make it 2-1.
UMass Boston loaded the bases in the second with one out, but two more fielder's choices would strand three on base.
After walking the first batter she faced to load the bases, Hoben allowed an RBI single over the shortstop's head which should have made it 4-1. Instead a Beacons' throwing error ended up allowing three runs to score on the play, as the ball ended up in the visiting dugout.
UMass Boston mounted their comeback rally in the fourth. Pawlina singled with one down and moved to second on a Braga two-out walk. Morse followed with a single to right field that scored Pawlina, after the right-fielder booted the ball. Vento followed with a short double down the left-field line to score Braga and Morse. With the tying run at the plate, Sanson came on for Valentine and induced a lineout to third.
UMass Boston would put a single runner on against Sanson in each of the final three innings, but the freshman would snuff out the rallies, to give Eastern their first three-game winning streak of the year.
BY THE NUMBERS
- UMass Boston left 19 runners on base on the day, including the bases loaded three times.
- With the sweep, Eastern Connecticut State snapped a three-game losing streak to the Beacons and improved to 42-3 all-time against UMass Boston.
- With the two losses, UMass Boston suffered their first two-game losing streak and first sweep of the season.
- Morse broke out of a 1-for-18 slump with three hits in seven at-bats and hits in both games.
UMass Boston will get a mid-week tune-up on Wednesday, when they host Babson College for a single-game at 4 p.m.