DARTMOUTH, Mass. – Sophomore righty Morgan Bolduk (Vernon) spun her second one-hit shutout in two days in a 3-0 victory over two-time defending champion University of Massachusetts Boston that made Eastern Connecticut State University the lone remaining unbeaten team in the 2019 Little East Conference double-elimination softball tournament Friday at the UMD Softball Complex.
Seeded third, Eastern (27-11) advances to play Saturday against No. 2 seed Plymouth State University (21-17), which stayed alive with a 6-0 win over No. 4 University of Southern Maine in Friday's third game. The Warriors need two wins to capture their fifth title in ten years.
Friday's scheduled fourth game – an elimination game between No. 5 UMass Boston (22-19) and No. 1 Massachusetts Dartmouth (23-17) – was postponed due to rain and is scheduled to get underway Saturday at 11:30 a.m. The Eastern-Plymouth game will follow the UMass Boston-UMass Dartmouth game at 1:30 p.m. Either one or two games will remain in the tournament following the 1:30 p.m. game.
Bolduk (13-1) had shut out No. Southern Maine, 8-0 in six innings in the tournament opener Thursday with nine strikeouts and one walk, retiring 11 straight at one point after giving up her only hit. Facing UMass Boston for the first time this year – missing the regular-season sweep due to injury -- Bolduk struck out five and walked one, retiring the first 11 batters she faced before issuing a two-out walk in the bottom of the fourth to No. 3 hitter Roxanne Vento with the Warriors leading, 2-0.
Bolduk stranded Vento on first in that fourth inning to preserve the 2-0 lead, and after Eastern upped the lead to 3-0 on junior Sabrina LeMere's (North Branford) RBI single in the top of the fifth, the Beacons broke Bolduk's no-hit bid on pinch hitter Drew Washington's single to right-center leading off the sixth. After Washington was sacrificed to second, Bolduk retired the final five batters in order for her sixth shutout of the year – third in the last four starts (all one-hitters).
At left: Sara Pisanelli
Junior Sara Pisanelli's (Wallingford) two-out home run to center in the top of the first– her sixth of the year – provided the Warriors with an early 1-0 lead against UMass starter Jess Greenspan, the two-time LEC tournament MVP. Greenspan stranded five runners over the next two innings following Pisanelli's solo blast before the Warriors added another run in the fourth to make it 2-0, chasing Greenspan (15-9) in the process. LeMere was hit by a pitch to open the inning, moved to second on a walk and came home on Bolduk's single to right-center that ended Greenspan's day.
Junior Megan Hodgdon (Cheshire) and sophomore Alexis Tyrrell (Torrington) each had two hits for Eastern, which had been eliminated from the tournament in 2016 and 2017 by UMass Boston. Eastern has not made an error in two tournament games.
Eastern has won four of its last six, the two setbacks in that stretch inflicted by Plymouth State on the final day of the regular season at Plymouth, NH. Bolduk was saddled with the first-game loss – her first this year after 11 straight victories.
In two tournament games, Bolduk has pitched all 13 innings without allowing a run in dropping her ERA under 1.00 to 0.94. She has allowed only two singles while fanning 14 and walking two.
In pitching all 15 tournament innings last year in losses to UMass Dartmouth (1-0) and Plymouth State (4-0), Bolduk gave up only two earned runs on 13 hits while fanning 12 and walking one. In two years of tournament play, she is 2-2 in 28 innings with a 0.50 ERA and 26 strikeouts. She's given up 15 hits and three walks.