NCAA Division III Baseball Mansfield Regional: No. 21 Western New England Tops Keene State, 7-1

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MANSFIELD, Conn. – Sophomore Brendan Nugent (Milford, Conn.) fired a five-hitter as fifth-seeded Western New England took the opening game of the 2012 NCAA Division-III Baseball Mansfield Regional with a 7-1 victory over the fourth-seeded Keene State on Wednesday morning at the Eastern Baseball Stadium.

After each squad went down in order in the first, Western New England took a three run lead in the top of the second. Junior Kyle McKelvey (Schenectady, N.Y.) drilled a double down the left field line just shy of a home run for a pair of RBI. Two batters later sophomore Steve Ambrosino (Laurel Hollow, N.Y.) connected on a run-producing single to right field.

The Golden Bears added an insurance run in the fourth as junior Tim Clark (West Springfield, Mass.) singled up the middle to push a runner across on his 100th career hit.

Western New England used back-to-back singles to open the fourth inning. Both runners crossed home plate on a double to left field by sophomore Jeff Schult (Wappingers Falls, N.Y.). A sacrifice fly to deep left field off the bat of junior Mike Rubino (Northford, Conn.) plated the seventh Golden Bear tally of the game.

With the bases jacked in the bottom of the fourth, Keene State broke through as senior Larry Longo (Londonderry, N.H.) sent a sacrifice fly to right. Vita walked to reload the bases but a grounder to shortstop ended the threat.

The Owls looked to inch closer in the seventh as the bases were loaded before a pair of swinging strikeouts ended the frame.

Nugent improved to 9-1 on the season as he surrendered only one run on five hits while striking out five.

Keene State senior Jeff Pelkey (Fitzwilliam, N.H.) slipped to 6-3 as he was tagged with the loss after giving up seven runs in the first three stanzas. Senior Nick Winn (West Hartford, Conn.) retired the first six batters he faced before issuing his only walk en route to a scoreless six innings of relief and set down six Golden Bears via the strikeout.

Both teams await the result of the 1:15 p.m. contest between the eighth-seeded Bridgewater State and top-seeded Wheaton. Western New England (34-11) will face the winner tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. while Keene State (31-14) will take on the loser at 10:00 a.m.