Harwich, Mass. --- University of Southern Maine sophomore Sam Dexter (Oakland, Maine) went 3-for-5 with a pair of runs and junior Andrew Richards (S. Portland, Maine) recorded the victory in relief as the second-seeded Huskies squeaked past third-seeded Tufts University, 3-2, in the evening game of the 2014 NCAA Division III New England Baseball Regional at Whitehouse Field.
Southern Maine (33-12) moves on to set up a rematch of last year's winner's bracket final against fourth-seeded Endicott College at 4 p.m. tomorrow. The Jumbos will try to stave off elimination against fifth-seeded MIT in at 1 p.m. matchup.
The Huskies opened the contest's scoring by stringing together three consecutive hits which culminated in an RBI single through the hole between short and second by senior Chris Bernard (Scarborough, Maine) to bring in classmate John Carey (S. Portland, Maine).
Southern Maine looked poised to score again with runners on second and third as no out lights were lit on the board. However, junior Tom Ryan (Walpole, Mass.) reached back and set down the final three batters on a strikeout looking, an out at the plate and a fielder's choice play at second.
Tufts came right back in the bottom of the fifth and took over the 2-1 edge in the bottom of the fifth.
With runners on the corners, sophomore Cody McCallum (Rutherford, N.J.) recorded an infield single to drive in senior Nick Cutsumpas (White Plains, N.Y.). Classmate Wade Hauser (Palo Alto, Calif.) tacked the other extra score on a plated solo base-knock to the outfield, but the Jumbos prevented further damage when the second baseman fired a strike home from shallow center to end the frame.
Senior Troy Thibodeau (Danvers, Mass.), however, helped the Huskies knot up the score at 2-2 in the top of the sixth. With sophomore Sam Dexter (Oakland, Maine) at second, he scampered home on a single by the middle by Thibodeau with two men down.
Tufts junior reliever Willie Archibald (Milton, Mass.) soon found a Southern Maine player at every base as the Huskies took advantage of a key infield miscue when the Jumbos botched a double play attempt earlier in the top of the eighth.
With pinch hitter Forrest Chadwick (Gardiner, Maine) at the plate, the catcher prevented the pitch in the dirt from getting past him, but the ricochet bounced back towards the mound. As the pitcher tried to charge and field the ball, he ran past the ball and allowed Dexter to slide home for the go-ahead score.
The Jumbos had a chance to equalize the score in the last of ninth. Junior Bryan Egan (Watervliet, N.Y.) singled, Cutsumpas reached on a low flick by the shortstop to first with two men down and freshman Tom Petry (Worcester, Mass.) was brushed in the uniform to load up the bases.
However, Richards calmly faced his batter and induced a fielder's choice ground out to help the Huskies secure the victory.
Richards (5-1) struck out two, yielded one hit and one hit batter over 2 2/3 frames of effective relief of sophomore Shyler Scates (Jefferson, Maine). Scates went the first 6 1/3 innings, scattering eight base-knocks while allowing a pair of unearned runs and one walk to go with one strikeout.
Archibald (3-2) was tagged with the loss as he permitted one unearned score on two hits over his two innings of work. Junior Tom Ryan (Walpole, Mass.) went the first seven stanzas as he gave up two runs (one earned) with six hits and five punch outs. Tufts pitching also issued four free passes.
The Jumbos actually outhit their opponents, 9-8, as there were no extra base-knocks in the contest. Hauser, Egan, Cutsumpas and junior Connor McDavitt (Holden, Mass.) all had two hits apiece for Tufts.
McDonough went 2-for-4 to help pace Southern Maine offensively.