Union, N.J. (3/22/13) – Junior Tyler Smarslok crossed the plate as the winning run in the bottom of the eighth as #8/9 Kean University edged #19 Eastern Connecticut State University, 2-1, Friday afternoon.
In a matchup where runs and hits were at a premium, Smarslok contributed with two hits as Kean improved to 12-4. Eastern Connecticut suffered just its second setback of the season to fall to 8-2.
The ballgame was scoreless through the first six innings as both starters were in a tight pitchers' duel. Senior Kevin Herget finished the day tossing seven strong innings with eight strikeouts and four walks, allowing four hits and no runs. He pitched his way out of three tough spots to keep the Warriors off the board. In the fifth with two runners in scoring position and one out he got Tyler Caserta to strike out and forced a groundball to get out of the jam. In the sixth he worked around a leadoff double and a one out walk with another strikeout and a fly ball. In his final inning he stranded Caserta at third with a fly ball out.
Southpaw Tom Darby was equally as effective as he tossed six and a third innings allowing five hits and one run with five strikeouts and two walks.
Kean scratched across the game's first run in the bottom of the seventh as junior Nick Zucherro led off the frame with a single to right. Pinch-runner Connor Paglia then moved into scoring position on a successful sacrifice and would later swipe third. An errant throw trying to catch him at third landed in leftfield, giving Kean a 1-0 lead.
Eastern Connecticut answered right back and erased the shutout with a single run in the top of the eighth. Junior Mike Vaccarelli fought a 3-2 pitch into right field to lead off the inning. He would go on to steal second and moved to third on a groundout. Senior Joe Balowski lofted a long sacrifice fly to knot the game at one-all.
Smarslok then led off the bottom of the same inning and reached first after being hit-by-a-pitch. Small ball moved him to second with one out. Later in the frame with two outs, he would score from second on a hit through the hole from junior Joe O'Connor.
Eastern Connecticut had their chances in the ninth to tie the game back up as senior Drew Accomando started things off with a single. A sacrifice bunt moved him into scoring position and a wild pitch moved him just 90 feet away with one out. Reliever Charles Thielmann then got pinch-hitter Pete Gonski to ground out on a drawn in infield, holding the runner at third. Thielmann then recorded a fly ball out to secure the win.
Smarslok and Accomando each had two hits, the only multi-hit players, on the day.
The Cougars return to action on Sunday when they host Oneonta State at 11:30 a.m.