MANSFIELD, Conn. – Freshman catcher Matt Malcom (East Lyme) drove in five runs with two doubles and a sacrifice fly and junior righty John Parker (Brunswick, ME) pitched three innings in relief without allowing an earned run as the Eastern Connecticut State University baseball team clinched the No. 4 seed in the upcoming Little East Conference tournament with a 14-8 win over Western Connecticut State University Saturday afternoon at the Eastern Baseball Stadium.
Eastern (22-16, 8-8 LEC) brings a three-game winning streak into this week's six-team, double-elimination LEC tournament and will meet third-seeded Rhode Island College (25-14, 9-7 LEC) Wednesday at the site of the No. 1 seed, either the University of Southern Maine or defending champion University of Massachusetts Boston. By defeating Plymouth State University in the second game Saturday (the Huskies led, 6-1, in the second inning) and sweeping the Panthers in its LEC doubleheader, USM would clinch the top seed. Southern Maine won the opener, 10-3.
Trailing 2-1, Eastern scored eighth runs in the second inning Saturday against Western Connecticut (6-23, 3-11 LEC), sending 12 batters to the plate and collecting six hits. After doubling in Eastern's first run in the first inning, Malcom cleared the bases with a two-out double in the second. Senior third baseman Alex Parkos (Meriden) doubled in a run and singled in another in the inning, giving him the 300th total base of his career. Senior centerfielder Alexander White (West Hartford) also had two hits in the inning and scored two runs. He doubled to open the inning and later in the inning singled in a run.
The third of six Eastern pitchers, Parker (5-6) allowed only two hits and one unearned run while fanning four and walking one. He started the third inning with the Warriors leading 11-6 and left after five innings with Eastern in front, 11-7.
The Colonials scored seven runs in their first three at-bats but were shut out over the next five innings before adding a final run in the eighth when freshman second baseman Kevin Smith (Vernon) and sophomore shortstop Logan Terry (Ellington)– batting 8-9 – opened with singles and senior rightfielder Kyle MacLean (Southington) hit a sacrifice fly.
Parkos and White each had three hits and Malcom and sophomore first baseman Luke Broadhurst (Stafford) two each. Eastern had seven doubles among its 15 hits – two each by Malcom, White and sophomore Broadhurst. White and senior shortstop Dale Keller (Oxford) each scored three runs, with Keller reaching four times with an infield hit and three walks batting out of the No. 9 spot. Junior leftfielder John Mesagno (Tappan, NY) reached twice with a single and walk, scored once in each of the first two innings, and drove in a run, while sophomore rightfielder Jack Rich (Meriden) launched his first home run of the year as a pinch-hitter – a two-run shot in the seventh.
Smith, Terry, MacLean, and leadoff hitter Greg Campbell (Harwinton) all had two hits in Western's 11-hit attack, with Smith and Campbell each scoring twice and Smith also walking. MacLean's two-run home run in the first gave the Colonials the only lead of the afternoon, 2-1.
Eastern's scheduled game Monday against visiting MIT was cancelled.