Baseball: UMass Boston Powers Past Warriors in Championship Round of LEC Tourney

Junior shortstop Dale Keller (23) led a stellar defense in five games at the Little East Conference tournament this past week, handling 18 chances without an error as the Warriors commited only one harmless error in the tournament in reaching the final for the 12th time in 22 seasons.
Junior shortstop Dale Keller (23) led a stellar defense in five games at the Little East Conference tournament this past week, handling 18 chances without an error as the Warriors commited only one harmless error in the tournament in reaching the final for the 12th time in 22 seasons.

BOSTON – Top-seeded University of Massachusetts Boston touched six Eastern Connecticut State University pitchers for 14 hits – half of them for extra bases – and used an eight-run sixth inning to post its second straight Little East
Conference tournament title, a 13-0 seven-inning victory Saturday at Monan Park.

Anthony Cecere drove in five runs for UMass (34-8) with a run-scoring single in the second, a sacrifice fly in the fourth and a bases-clearing triple in an eight-run sixth inning when it sent 13 batters to the plate and collected seven hits off four Eastern (25-16) pitches.

Ranked No. 5 nationally and first in New England, UMass won four tournament games by a combined score of 33-5, defeating Eastern in the winners' bracket final Friday. The Warriors returned later Friday to down sixth-seeded UMass Dartmouth, 7-4, and advance to the championship round for the 12th time in 22 years, but needed to defeat UMass Boston twice Saturday for a tenth title.

UMass defeated Eastern four times during the season, including a 13-7, 17-4 sweep March 31 at Mansfield.

Saturday, Ryan McCormick was 4-for-4 with two doubles for the Beacons and scored two runs, as did tournament MVP Chris Fowler and Nick Herzog. Eddie Riley belted a two-run home run in the eight-run sixth.

Freshman righty Tyler Arruda and two relievers limited Eastern to one hit, a single by senior second baseman Mike Funaro (Northford) in the third when Eastern trailed 1-0. Funaro's single down the left field line sent junior leftfielder Ryan Hood (Arlington, MA) to third with none out, but Arruda got a three-pitch strikeout for the first out and began a 1-6-3 inning-ending double play when he stabbed junior shortstop Dale Keller's (Oxford) sharp ground ball.

Making his first career start (17th appearance), sophomore righty Drew Alexopoulos (Hanson, MA) limited UMass to three runs on five hits in working the first four innings. The Beacons scored their first run in the second on three hits and a sacrifice bunt and made it 3-0 in the fourth on consecutive doubles by McCormick and Herzog and Cecere's sacrifice fly.

In five tournament games, Eastern commited only one error which did not figure in a run in Friday night's win over UMass Dartmouth and got standout pitching efforts from senior Sam Kosterich (Stamford), junior righty Jordan Muchin (West Hartford) and sophomore righties Jack Risley (Willimantic) and Sam Gagnon (Andover). Junior third baseman Alex Parkos (Meriden) led the Warriors in hitting (.368) and also walked three times, while senior catcher Merlyn Herrera (La Yaquiza, DR) and junior centerfielder Alexander White (West Hartford) each batting .353, with White also reaching five times on walks and Herrera four times on walks. Senior first baseman D.J. Scavone (Auburne, MA) and freshman rightfielder Anthony Stigler (Mansfield) each drove in four runs.