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Eastern Connecticut Advances To NCAA Second Round

MANSFIELD, Conn. -- Eastern Connecticut State University, as an at-large entry and tournament host playing in its fifth straight NCAA tournament, got a combined six hits, four runs and five RBI from senior shortstop Travis Bass (West Hartford, Conn.) and junior right fielder Jim Schult (Wappinger Falls, N.Y.) to power past MASCAC champion Worcester State College, 10-4, in the opening game of the eight-team NCAA Division III regional tournament here today. The win puts the Warriors in a winner’s bracket game Thursday at 4:30 p.m against the winner of the Tufts University vs. St. Joseph’s College (Me.) contest. The Lancers face the loser of the Tufts/St. Joe’s game in the first elimination contest Thursday at 10 a.m.

Eastern moved out to a five-run lead over Worcester St. in the bottom of the 4th, courtesy of a bases-loaded, three-run double to right center by Bass, pushing the margin to 5-1 after an RBI single to right by junior center fielder Shane Kingsley (Beacon Falls, Conn.) had spotted the Warriors a 2-1 lead in the frame. A single to left from Schult capped the five-run rally for the 6-1 bulge.

The Lancers got a run back in the top of the 5th when junior first baseman Nick Fluegge (Ware, Mass.) walked with the bases loaded to plate senior third baseman Ryan LaPrade (Leominster, Mass.), who had led off the inning with a single. A single by senior shortstop TJ Magnell (Leominster, Mass.) and a walk to junior designated hitter Corey McDonald (Hudson, Mass.) filled the sacks. Eastern got out of the situation on a nice running catch in right field by Schult on a liner by junior catcher Johno Hinkell (North Adams, Mass.).

The gap was narrowed to 6-3 when sophomore third baseman Tyler McElman (Marlboro, Mass.) opened the 6th with a single to left for the Lancers. Senior right fielder Nick Caparell (North Attleboro, Mass.) sent a line single into right center, sending McElman to third. A ground out by junior center fielder Corey Abbascia (Shrewsbury, Mass.) brought in the Lancers’ third run.

Eastern then batted around in the bottom of the 6th to put the game out of reach with a four-run outburst for a 10-3 margin. A two-run single to center field by senior third baseman Melvin Castillo (Danbury, Conn.) made it 8-3 and both junior pinch hitter Robert Perry (Manchester, Conn.) and senior left fielder Chris Thomsen (Montville, Conn.) drove in a run with a hit to give the Warriors their largest lead. Worcester St. starting pitcher senior Joey Lucier (Brockton, Mass.) did not last the inning and was tapped for all 10 runs, nine of them earned, on 11 hits. He suffered the loss, dropping his seasonal record to 7-3. Eastern finished the game with 16 hits.

Going seven innings on the mound for Eastern to get the win was senior Will Musson (Wethersfield, Conn.), who allowed seven hits and three runs, two of them earned. He improved to 6-1 on the year.
Worcester St. had drawn first blood in the top of the 2nd, taking advantage of an infield error by Eastern to get LaPrade safely to first base. After a stolen base and move to third base on a ground out, LaPrade hit the plate for the initial run on a ground single up the middle by freshman left fielder Chris Creen (Worcester, Mass).

Eastern responded in the bottom of the 3rd with back-to-back doubles by Bass and Schult. Bass sent a roller down the third-base line that hit the bag as he hustled into second base. Schult lashed a ball into the right-center field gap for the RBI.

Worcester St. added the game’s final run in the top of the 9th when Fluegge knocked in Magnell, who had walked, with a single to left. Fluegge and McDonald each had a pair of hits for the Lancers, accounting for four of their nine safeties.

While Bass and Schult had three hits apiece for Eastern, the Warriors got a two-hit game from Castillo, Thomsen and junior first baseman Andrew Dewing (Swampscott, Mass.).