Owls' Relievers Excel As No. 2 Keene State Advances

MANSFIELD, Conn. -- Three Keene State College pitchers combined for three innings of scoreless, one-hit relief to help lift the Owls to a 6-1 win over the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Thursday afternoon in the opening round of the Little East Conference baseball tournament at the Eastern Baseball Stadium.

By defeating fifth-seeded UMass Dartmuoth (20-18) for the sixth time in the tournament without a loss all-time and extending its current hitting streak to 10, second-seeded Keene State (26-13-1) remains in the winners’ bracket of the six-team, double-elimination tournament and will play Friday at 1:15 p.m. against the winner of Thursday’s third game between No. 3 seed Rhode Island College and No. 4 Massachusetts Boston.

Keene starter Dan Nelson (Glastonbury, Conn.) carried a 5-1 lead into the seventh before giving the ball to freshman reliever Tim Quagliaroli (Windsor Locks, Conn.) after the first two batters of the UMass seventh reached safely on a douoble and single. With runners on second and third, Quagliaroli got two infield popups before giving way to Corey Vogt (Suffield, Conn.) after walking the bases loaded. Vogt got No. 5 hitter Matt Ryan (Uxbridge, Mass.) on a called strike to end the inning. With Keene leading 6-1, Vogt sandwiched a ground ball and strikeout around a walk in the eighth, and lefty Ed Lacourse (Manchester, N.H.) was inserted, and got a line drive to right on his only pitch to end the threat.

Nelson was credited with his sixth win of the year without a loss. He gave up nine hits and a walk and struck out three.

Keene scored the only three runs it would need in the third against UMass freshman righty Mike St. Martin (Worcester, Mass.) on three hits, a hit batter and infield error, and No. 9 hitter Kyle Morrill’s (Auburn, N.H.) sixth home run of the season -- a two-run shot with two out – made it 5-1 in the sixth. Peter Burgio’s (Bolton, Conn.) sixth homer of the year in the seventh closed out the scoring.

Jesse Cahill (Cranston, R.I.) had three of Keene’s ten hits, and Burgio two. Both scored a run.

UMass, which ended its regular season with two losses at Keene last Friday, got three hits from leadoff hitter Ryan McDermott (Pembroke, Mass.) and two from No. 3 hitter Jeff Macchi (Franklin, Mass.) and from Tom Ladore (Milford, Conn.).

Keene won its first LEC playoff title in 2008 and reached last year’s championship round as the No. 3 seed before losing to second-seeded Eastern Connecticut.