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Lyons Roar Past Warriors With 7-Run 7th

MANSFIELD, Conn. – Second-seeded Wheaton College wiped out a two-run deficit in a seven-run seventh inning as the Lyons survived an elimination game for the second straight day with a 9-4 victory over fourth-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University Friday as the Warriors made their earliest departure in the NCAA Division III New England Regional Tournament since 1980.

In defeating Eastern (31-15) for the second time against four losses in regional play, the New England Men’s and Women’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) champion Lyons (34-9) return to action tonight to play the fourth of four games against the winner of Friday’s second game between third-seeded Western New England College and eighth-seeded Saint Joseph’s College (Maine).

Wheaton trailed only once in the game but erased a two-run deficit in the seventh by scoring seven runs on five hits and three walks against four different Eastern pitchers. Tad Skelley, (Wolfeboro, N.H.) batting ninth, opened the frame with a double to the right-centerfield fence and scored the first run, then stroked a two-run double later in the frame to plate the final two runs and make it 9-4.

Run-scoring singles by Sean Munley (Trenton, N.J.) and Eric Jensen in the sixth staked Wheaton to a 2-0 lead before the Warriors ended a 16-inning scoreless streak by scoring their only four runs on four hits and an infield throwing error. The first six batters reached safely or drove in a run in the inning for Eastern. Cleanup hitter Andrew Dewing (Swampscott, Mass,) tied the game with a sacrifice fly to right and Melvin Castillo (Danbury, Conn.) gave the Warriors the 3-2 lead with a single to center.

The first six batters of the Wheaton seventh reached safely or drove in a run, with five different batters driving in one run before Skelley capped the surge with his two-out double. Five of the seven runs scored with two out. Eastern pitchers walked seven batters in the game, with four coming around to score.

Wheaton starter Corey Laliberte (Nashua, N.H.) pitched five scoreless innings but was lifted when the first three Eastern batters reached in the sixth and did not figure in the decision. Laliberte departed with a 2-1 lead but both runners inherited by winning pitcher David Longley (Brunswick, Maine) eventually scored.

Eastern starter Jim Schult carried a 4-2 lead into the seventh but allowed Skelley’s leadoff double and walked leadoff hitter Hal Landers (Salem, N.H.) and was lifted.