Southern Maine Downs Western New England 4-1
GORHAM, Maine -- Senior left-hander Tyler Leavitt (North Andover, Mass.) combined with three relievers to give the University of Southern Maine a strong pitching performance as the Huskies defeated the visiting Western New England University Golden Bears 4-1 in non-conference baseball action Sunday afternoon at Ed Flaherty Field.
Prior to the start of the game, the University renamed the baseball field Ed Flaherty Field in honor of its long-time head coach now in his 32nd season. Members of the 1997 USM national championship team were also honored over the weekend on the 20th anniversary of their winning the national title, and numerous baseball alumni took part in the pregame ceremonies.
The win was the third straight, and 18th in the last 19 games, for the Huskies. USM improved to 25-8 for the season. The Golden Bears dropped their second straight to slip to 21-15 overall.
Leavitt, who missed the entire 2016 season with an arm injury, had his longest outing of the season going 6 1/3 innings to earn his third win of the season. He allowed one run on five hits and four walks while striking out four.
Senior Tom Fortier (Falmouth, Maine) came on with one out in the seventh to get the Huskies out of the inning. Senior Alex Tobey (Berwick, Maine/Berwick Academy) and sophomore Jake Dexter (Oakland, Maine/Messalonskee) each pitched a scoreless inning with Dexter getting his eighth save of the year.
Senior Matt Bender (Walpole, Mass.) and freshmen Dylan Hapworth (Winslow, Maine) and Andrew Olszak (Danvers, Mass.) had two hits apiece to lead the Huskies' nine-hit attack. Freshman Kevin Johnson (Waterford, Conn.) and sophomores Alex Loparco (Riverside, Conn.) and Aaron Rios (Stratford, Conn.) had two hits apiece for the Golden Bears who also had nine hits in the game.
WNEU senior starter Matt Thomas (Plainville, Conn.) was tagged with his second loss against two wins. Thomas went five innings allowing four runs on eight hits and one walk. He struck out one.
USM took a 1-0 lead in the first inning as Bender singled with out, advanced to second on a ground out, and scored on Hapworth's single through the left side.
Leavitt and Thomas matched zeros on the scoreboard for the next three innings. In the fifth, WNEU tied the game when sophomore Brian Valeriano (Stratford, Conn.) doubled down the left-field line, stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly by Johnson. Leavitt gave up a double to Loparco with two outs, but stranded him there by getting a strikeout to end the frame.
Southern Maine scored three runs in its half of the fifth inning banging out four straight hits. Bender singled with one out and scored when junior Sam Stauble (Harrison, Maine/Bridgton Academy) tripled to right center. Stauble scored on a double down the left-field line by Hapworth. Senior Paul McDonough (Wells, Maine) followed with the fourth straight hit, a single to right, to score Hapworth.
Southern Maine returns to action on Tuesday (4:30 p.m.) hosting Bowdoin College. Western New England plays tomorrow afternoon (3:30 p.m.) at Babson College.