DANBURY, CT – The Western Connecticut State University baseball team moved to 14-16 overall and 3-8 in Little East Conference play following a doubleheader split with visiting league rival Rhode Island College on Saturday afternoon at Westside Field on Senior Day. Junior third baseman Bill Buscetto (Old Lyme, CT) paced the Colonials with three hits, while classmate outfielder Joel Luna (Queens Village, NY) added two hits and a game-high three RBI's as their rally came up short in Game One, falling 6-5. WestConn rebounded with a 4-2 win in the nightcap as senior shortstop EJ Lavoie (East Granby, CT) went 3-for-3 with an RBI.
After drawing first blood in the second, the Anchormen extended the lead to 5-0 in the top of the fifth as they notched four unearned runs. The Colonials answered with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the frame before tacking on another run in the sixth. Luna started the spurt when he doubled down the right field line, scoring junior catcher Zach Sagar (Trumbull, CT) – who led off with a walk – and Buscetto – who doubled to left. Sagar capped the flurry with an RBI groundout, cutting the lead to 5-3 heading into the seventh.
RIC widened the gap to 6-3 in the top of the seventh. The Colonials then rallied in the bottom of the ninth. Sagar singled to right to lead off the stanza. Buscetto followed with a single to left. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch as Sagar came around to touch the plate. Luna then bashed a single to center, scoring Buscetto, making the count 6-5. Luna moved into scoring position after a sacrifice bunt from senior Dave Palladino (Southington, CT) giving the Colonials a chance at the equalizer with just one out. However, the Colonials stranded him on second with a pair of fly balls to end the game.
WestConn sophomore George Bielizna (Danbury, CT) took the tough loss, falling to 3-1 overall, while pitching seven innings and allowing just two earned runs (four unearned). Sophomore Mike Webb (Pawtucket, RI) upped his record to 2-2, while tossing six strong innings, while juniors Brad Douglas (South Kingstown, RI), Frank Pettinato (Cranston, RI), and Shaun Vigeant (Coventry, RI) finished with two hits apiece for the Anchormen.
The Colonials received a tremendous pitching effort in the Game Two victory. Sophomore righty Eric Nicholson (Old Lyme, CT) tossed six innings, allowing just one earned run, improving to 2-1 overall. Junior Kyle Sanford (Torrington, CT) threw a solid middle relief inning, before sophomore flamethrower Taylor Donofrio (Terryville, CT) closed out the final two innings, earning his fourth save of the season.
RIC tallied a run in the top of the first and another in the fifth to hold a 2-0 lead. The Colonials retaliated with a four-run outburst in the bottom of the sixth. Senior catcher Bryan Harper (Ledyard, CT) pushed the first run across with a towering sacrifice fly to center. Senior outfielder Tre' Gause (Brookfield, CT) then drilled a single through the right side, scoring rookie designated hitter Zach Piroh (Stratford, CT) – who reached earlier with a double to left center. With the count deadlocked at 2-2, Gause would come around to score on a fielder's choice from Luna. Lavoie added an insurance run when he knocked a single through the left side, pushing Luna across the plate to extend the WestConn advantage to 4-2.
The Anchormen threatened in the seventh and ninth innings. However, solid clutch pitching proved to be the difference for the Colonials as they held on for the win. "We managed to stay alive with that big win in Game Two. Our guys kept battling, which makes tomorrow's game at Eastern that much more important for us," said WestConn head coach John Susi following the split.
The Colonials return to action at their cross-state nemesis with the first pitch slated for 4 p.m. They then return home for a non-conference matchup against Lehman before a four-game road trip to conclude the regular season.