Mansfield, CT --- Keene State senior Erik Bergstrom (Enfield, CT) was 2-for-3 with a triple, two RBIs and the game-winning run to help lift the fourth-seeded Owls to a 3-2 triumph over #8 Bridgewater State in the loser's bracket elimination game of the NCAA Division III Baseball Tournament hosted by Eastern Connecticut.
Keene State (32-14) will find out their next opponent for Friday afternoon's elimination game at 10 AM after second-seeded St. Joseph's (Maine) and #3 Trinity College (CT) play at 7:45 today. The Bears, who have been eliminated, finish their 2012 campaign at 30-15.
Bergstrom helped the Owls go up 1-0 by capping off the top of the fourth inning on an RBI single with runners on first and second.
Keene State added some insurance with a pair of runs in the sixth when Bergstrom drove in fourth-year Kyle Morrill (Auburn, NH) on a triple to right-center and he came around to score on a run producing ground-out by sophomore Nick Vita (Spofford, NH).
KSC senior Tim Thiesing (S. Grafton, MA) shut down the Bears over his first six 1/3 innings of work as he would set down 12 of his first 14 though his first four frames of work. He also stranded runners on second in the fifth and sixth innings.
But the Bears broke the shutout in the top of the seventh with two runs in the stanza. With the bases loaded, junior Tory Buck (Shelburne Falls, MA) drove in the first score on an RBI fielder's choice and classmate Trevor Lawson (Easton, MA) plated the second run on an infield single to third.
After fourth-year Jim Balboni (Townsend, MA) tossed a perfect eighth, Bridgewater State threatened in the bottom of the eighth. Senior Ian Williams (Taunton, MA) was plunked to start the inning and then he moved to second on a sacrifice bunt.
With one out, junior Craig Stewart (Brockton, MA) rapped out a single that was destined for left field, but Morrill saved a run at third base by knocking down the ball going down the line and prevented Williams from scoring on the play. In the very next at-bat, junior closer Tim Quagliaroli (Windsor Locks, CT) was called out of the bullpen and he promptly induced a foul-fly to get out of the jam.
Quagliaroli would hurl a scoreless ninth to nail down his fifth save of the season.
Thiesing improved his record to 5-0 in the triumph for the Owls. Thiesing yielded two earned runs on four hits while he fanned five and issued one free pass.
Balboni (6-4) was tagged with the setback as he went the distance for the eighth time this season. He allowed three earned runs, scattered eight hits, two walks and finished with 12 strikeouts.
Stewart, Lawson and junior John Garabedian (Mansfield, MA) all chipped in with two base-knocks each and Morrill was 2-for-3 with a double.
Overall, Keene State finished with the 8-7 edge in hits and the Bears stranded 10 men on base.
Story by Steven M. Miller, Jr.