Senior right-hander Jim Schult (Wappingers Falls, NY) tossed his first career shutout and senior outfielder Shane Kingsley (Beacon Falls) drove in the only two runs of the game with an eighth-inning single as the Eastern Connecticut State University baseball team defeated the College of Brockport Wednesday morning in the opening round of the 2011 NCAA Division III Auburn, NY Regional at Falcon Park.
Fifth-seeded Eastern (33-11) advances to play Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in the winners' bracket of the eight-team, double-elimination tournament against top-seeded host Cortland State (34-8), which trimmed eighth-seeded Mitchell (23-10-1), 3-1, later Wednesday. Brockport (27-13) faces Mitchell in an elimination game Thursday at 10 a.m.
Schult (10-1), the 2011 New England Player-of-the-Year and Little East Conference Pitcher-of-the-Year, recorded the first shutout and sixth complete game in 30 career starts. He walked four and hit a batter over the first four innings but carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning. All five hits that he allowed in the game were singles. He struck out 12 and walked five and hit a batter en route to his eighth straight victory.
Undefeated as a starter this season, Schult left seven runners in scoring position in recording his 19th career win against two losses. With the game scoreless, a strikeout left Brockport runners on second and third in the bottom of the first, outfield fly balls stranded the bases loaded in the third and two on base in the sixth, and a strikeout kept the go-ahead run 90 feet away in the seventh.
Unable to get the ball out of the infield in his first three at-bats, Kingsley dumped a two-out single to center with the bases loaded in the eighth for the only runs that Schult needed.
After senior first baseman Andrew Dewing (Swampscott, MA) singled to open that eighth inning, sophomore second baseman Joe Balowski (Berlin) reached on a sacrifice bunt when Dewing beat Eagle first baseman Max Zimmerman's throw to second hoping for a forceout. Freshman shortstop Danny O'Connell (Braintree, MA) then successfully executed only his second sacrifice bunt of the season to move both runners into scoring position and a two-out walk to No. 9 hitter Mitch Plourde (Ellington) loaded the bases. Kingsley then drove in his 19th and 20th runs of the game with his single to center.
Facing an Eastern team which features a team .325 batting average, Brockport senior right-handed ace Kyle Smith (8-2) cruised through the first seven innings. He gave up only one hit without a walk in facing the minimum 18 batters over the first six innings. Both of Eastern's hits through seven innings were infield hits.
Smith pitched a four-hitter with six strikeouts and a walk through eight innings before giving way to freshman righty Justin McCarthy.
Against Cortland State in NCAA play, the Warriors have won three of five meetings. In the 2006 Auburn regional, Eastern rebounded from a 9-0 second-round loss to the Red Dragons to win the regional with 9-5, 10-7 triumphs over Cortland State in the championship round.
First-year junior righty Jim Dimon (Seymour) is a candidate to start Thursday's game. Dimon is 5-1 with a 4.17 ERA. Dimon did not figure in the decision in his last start against Rhode Island College in the Little East Conference opener a week ago. The Anchormen reached him for 12 hits and four runs (three) while fanning two and walking two in Eastern's eventual 6-4 loss. His last win came in his only complete game in 11 starts this season, a three-hitter against Rhode Island College in the team's 3-2 regular-season victory nearly a month ago.