Baseball: Freshmen Flourish as Warriors Rally for Opening Victory in Florida

Junior Jordan Muchin pitched a three-hitter with eight strikeouts and only one walk over seven innings.
Junior Jordan Muchin pitched a three-hitter with eight strikeouts and only one walk over seven innings.

AUBURNDALE, Fla. – Freshman Jack Rich (Meriden) tripled in three runs as a pinch hitter in his first collegiate at-bat in Eastern Connecticut State University's five-run ninth inning as the Warriors rallied past Becker College, 9-5, Sunday afternoon in its 2018 opener at Lake Myrtle Park.

Freshman leftfielder Anthony Stigler (Mansfield) opened the ninth inning with a triple for his first collegiate hit, and after junior second baseman William Coleman (Northford) walked and freshman catcher Kevin Murphy (Springfield, MA) was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Rich cleared the bases with a triple to center to pushed Eastern into a 7-5 lead. Rich later scored on a wild pitch and sophomore DH Jake LeFevre (Mansfield Center) came around to score on a throwing error after being hit by a pitch.

In his first collegiate pitching appearance, sophomore righty Drew Alexopoulos (Hanson, MA) preserved the win for junior lefty Nick Rascati (Wallingford) with a scoreless ninth. Alexopoulos allowed a leadoff single in the bottom of the ninth, but fanned two batters looking and got a ground ball to end the game.

Junior starting righty Jordan Muchin (West Hartford) was denied the victory despite leaving with a 4-1 lead after seven innings and proving to be virtually unhittable. Muchin stopped Becker (3-3) on three hits and one (earned) run, fanning eight and walking only one. Muchin  retired the first 15 batters in order without allowing the ball out of the infield through five innings. After striking out the first two batters of the sixth to give him 17 straight outs, Muchin lost his perfect game with a walk, and his no-hitter and shutout by giving up an RBI triple before retiring with a 4-1 lead after seven.

Senior first baseman D.J. Scavone's (Auburndale) two-run home run helped stake Eastern to a 2-0 lead and break up a pitching dual in the fifth, but after LeFevre's RBI triple improved the lead to 4-1, the Hawks rallied to take a 5-4 lead by scoring four times in the eighth on three RBI hits after there were two out and two on.

The win is the 100th for head coach Matt LaBranche in five years at Eastern (100-61). LaBranche is 529-248 in 19 seasons a collegiate head coach.

At Lake Myrtle Park, Eastern faces Ramapo College Monday at 7:30 p.m.