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Baseball: No.7 Seeded Warriors Drop into Losers' Bracket of NCAA with Late-Inning Loss

Baseball: No.7 Seeded Warriors Drop into Losers' Bracket of NCAA with Late-Inning Loss

MANSFIELD, Conn. -- Three sparkling starting pitching performances and a major upset highlighted the first day of the 2016 NCAA Division III New England Regional Baseball Tournament at the Eastern Baseball Stadium Wednesday.

SUNY Oswego, Tufts University and Keystone College advanced to winners' bracket play Thursday with wins over lower-seeded opponents, while No. 8 seed Salem State University upset No. 1 seed Wheaton College (MA) in the eight-team, double-elimination tournament.

Game 1:

#4 Keystone College 5, #5 Suffolk U. 2

Felix Baez struck out 11 batters in eight innings and closer Yeison Andujar struck out Jake Frasca to strand the tying run as Keystone College opened the 2016 NCAA Division III New England Regional Tournament with a 5-2 win over Suffolk University Wednesday morning at the Eastern Baseball Stadium.

Keystone (34-9) advances to a winners' bracket game Thursday at 4:30 p.m. while Suffolk (33-12) plays an elimination game Thursday at 10 a.m.

Baez (9-2), ranked third nationally in strikeouts, struck out seven before allowing his first hit of the game to Sean Cameron – a two-out single to left.  Baez carried a 5-0 lead into the eighth before  giving up two unearned runs on two hits, a walk and infield error.

Baez departed with a 5-2 lead after eight innings, with Andujar struggling to record his 11th save of the game. Andujar got two quick outs in the ninth. He then gave up a hit and walked two before getting Frasca – the team leader with seven home runs – on a swinging strike three.

Batting .333 as a team, Keystone broke a scoreless tie with two runs in the fourth off Suffolk starter Kyle Turner (4-3) and moved out to a 5-0 lead with three more in the sixth that chased the starter after six innings. The Giants scored both of their runs in the fourth with two out. After Nate Ross singled with one out and Bill Nelson doubled with two out, Turner walked Tony Hunter to load the bases and hit Alex Herceg to force in the first run. No. 9 hitter Julian Lanfranco's single made it 2-0.

In the sixth, an error on a sacrifice bunt pushed across the first two runs and Ross' infield single with two out and the bases loaded drove in Lanfranco made it 5-0.

Nelson had two hits and scored two runs for Keystone, while Rob Marks had two of Suffolk's four hits. Drew Carter and Matt Brenner combined to receive five of the nine walks issued by Keystone pitching.

 Game 2:

#8 Salem State U. 7, # 1Wheaton College (MA) 4

Sean Buckland pitched to within an out of his seventh complete game of the season and eighth-seeded Salem State University scored five runs in the third to wipe out an early deficit and upend top-seeded Wheaton College (MA), 7-4, in the second game of the NCAA Division III New England Regional Baseball Tournament Wednesday afternoon at the Eastern Baseball Stadium.

Salem State (24-18-1) moves into a winners' bracket game Thursday at 4:30 p.m. against first-game winner Keystone College, while Wheaton (30-12) plays an elimination game Thursday at 10 a.m. against first-game loser Suffolk University.

The left-handed Buckland, who had finished six of his first eight starts this year, retired 14 straight after giving up a first-inning two-run home run to No. 3 hitter Matt Lavanchy. With Salem leading by three in the bottom of the ninth, an infield error and double Mike Beneduce put two runners in scoring position, but closer Pete Gonski came on to get a swinging strikeout to end the game and record his fourth savc.

Down 2-0, the Vikings went ahead for good by batting around and scoring five runs in the top of the third off Wheaton starter Michael Bruemmel (3-5) on three hits and four walks. No. 9 hitter Mac Daniel Singelton started the inning with a double and Dan Connors later drove in two runs with a single.

Buckland (9-0) allowed only six hits while fanning seven, hitting a batter and walking two. Jordan Jenkins pitched 5 2/3 solid innings of middle relief to give the Lyons an opportunity to bounce back from a 5-2 deficit. Jenkins was touched for only two runs on five hits.

Davis and Singleton each had two hits for Salem, as did Wheaton leadoff hitter Jimmy Smith.

  Game 3:

# 3 Tufts U. 8, #6 Mitchell College 1

Speros Varinos  struck out a career-high 14 batters, scattering five hits over 8 2/3 innings and Tufts University's five-run first inning was more than enough to secure the third-seeded Jumbos' 8-1 victory over sixth-seeded Mitchell College in the opening round of the 2016 NCAA Division III New England Regional Baseball Tournament at the Eastern Baseball Stadium.

Tufts (33-6) advances to a winners' bracket game Thursday at 7:45 p.m. against the winner of Wednesday's late game between second-seeded SUNY Oswego and seventh-seeded host Eastern Connecticut State University. Mitchell (27-10) plays an elimination game Thursday at 1:15 p.m. against the Oswego-Eastern loser.

Varinos (7-1) sailed into the ninth inning with a two-hit shutout – retiring 12 straight after Tristan Hurley led off the game with a single. Varinos gave up three singles in the ninth and got two out via strikeout before walking in a run. Rory Ziomek was summoned to close out the win with a game-ending strikeout.

 Tufts chased Mitchell starter Al Jordan Johnson (7-1) in the second inning, collecting five of its 11 hits in scoring seven runs, both of its second-inning runs unearned with the help of an infield error. Tufts' first six batters of the game reached, with Tommy O'Hara's squeeze bunt single and error plating the first two runs. A bases loaded walk made it 3-0 and two infield ground balls made 5-0.

 O'Hara and Matt Moser each had two hits and drove in a run, with leadoff batter Harry Brown reaching three times with two hits and a walk and scoring two runs. Mitchell leadoff hitter Tristan Hurley had two of his team's five hits.


 Game 4: #2 Oswego State 3, #7 Eastern Conn. 2

A passed ball with two out in the bottom of the eighth inning snapped a tie and the seventh-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University baseball team stranded the tying run on third in the top of the ninth inning as No. 2 seed Oswego State posted a 3-2 victory in the final game of the first day of the 2016 NCAA Division III New England Regional Tournament Wednesday night at the Eastern Baseball Stadium.

 Oswego (33-9) advances to meet No. 3 seed Tufts University Thursday in a winner's bracket game at 7:45 p.m. while Eastern (23-18) plays an elimination game against No. 6 Mitchell College at 1:15 p.m.

 Eastern freshman righty Jordan Muchin and Oswego sophomore righty Robert Donnelly were locked in a pitcher's duel. Muchin allowed only four single through seven innings, walking two and striking out one.

Donnelly, who had a remarkable five assists and two putouts among the first 13 outs of the game, gave up only six hits before departing with runners on the corners and two out in the eighth. In that eighth inning, a fielding error on a strikeout allowed D.J. Scavone to reach for Eastern and move Alexander White to third with two out, but Andrew Morano got a fly ball to deep center field after taking over for Donnelly to keep the score tied after eight.

Muchin was lifted  after Eric Hamilton singled leading off the eighth, but on Nick Rascati's first pitch to Myles Kutscher, catcher Tim Budd threw out the runner attempting to steal. Kutscher and John Barnes then singled on each side of a deep fly to left by Jordan Giller, and Rascati lost Zach Kollar on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases with two out in a tie game, and was replaced by closer Sam Kosterich.

Kosterich, who appeared in all four of the team's Little East Conference tournament games and earned saves in the final three contests of that tournament, got two quick strikes on Eli Holton, but the third pitch glanced off the glove of Budd and Kutscher scored easily when Budd couldn't retrieve it cleanly to give Oswego a 3-2 lead.

Starting the ninth inning, Oswego closer Mickey Putillo walked Budd to open the inning. Pinch runner Ryan Hood was bunted into scoring position by Christian Budzik, but Putillo got a comebacker for the second out and a ground ball to second to end the game and record his fourth save.

Trailing 1-0, Eastern went ahead with two runs in the fourth, scoring with two out on Alex Parkos' single to right-center on an 0-2 pitch. The Lakers tied the game in the fifth with an unearned run on a leadoff walk to John Barnes, an infield error, sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly from No. 9 hitter Alex Brown.