GORHAM, Maine -- The University of Southern Maine got two strong starting pitching performances from junior Dalton Rice (Waterford, Maine/Oxford Hills) and sophomore Gage Feeney (Cutler, Maine/Washington Academy) to sweep visiting Western Connecticut State University, 9-2 and 7-0, in a Little East Conference baseball doubleheader played Friday afternoon at Ed Flaherty Field.
The sweep extends the Huskies winning streak to nine games and improves their record to 16-6 overall and 5-1 in the conference. The Colonials drop to 9-12 overall and remain winless in the conference after six games.
The doubleheader was originally scheduled for Saturday, but was moved up a day due to the inclement forecast.
Rice went eight innings in the opener allowing two runs on four hits and two walks while striking out 10. The Colonials reached Rice for a pair of runs in the fourth inning on an RBI double off the bat of senior Clete LoRusso (New Milford, Conn.) and an RBI ground out from junior Kyle McLean (Southington, Conn./St. Paul Catholic) that scored LoRusso.
USM had built a 2-0 lead with single runs in the second and third innings before Western tied the score in the top of the fourth. In the second, junior Tanner Laberge (Windham, Maine) led off with a double off WC senior left-hander Shane Bierfeldt (Torrington, Conn.), move to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a two-out infield error.
In the third, sophomore Dylan Hapworth (Winslow, Maine) walked and came around to score on sophomore Andrew Olszak's (Danvers, Mass.) fielder's choice.
Tied 2-2 in the fifth, the Huskies took the lead for good when junior Devin Warren (Smithfield, Maine/Messalonskee) hit his second home run of the season over the scoreboard in left field.
USM put the game away with four runs in the seventh and two markers in the eighth. Hapworth and Warren had back-to-back RBI singles off Bierfeldt to make it 5-2. Both scored on a wild pitch that ended Bierfeldt's outing.
The Huskies final two runs came in on junior Jake Dexter's (Oakland, Maine/Messalonskee) two-run double.
Dexter, Hapworth, Warren, Laberge and sophomore Andrew Hillier (Bangor, Maine) had two hits apiece for the Huskies. Dexter and Warren also had two RBI.
Rice and junior southpaw Henry Curran (South Portland, Maine) limited the Colonials to just five hits over nine innings. Bierfeldt, now 3-2 on the season, went 6.1 innings allowing seven runs (six earned) on nine hits and one walk while striking out nine.
Feeney combined with sophomore Ben Lambert (Saco, Maine/Thornton Academy) for the five-hitter. The shutout was the second for the Huskies' pitching staff in the last four games. Feeney went seven innings giving up five singles and two walks while fanning four. Lambert came on to hurl the final two innings striking five of the six batters he faced.
The Huskies jumped on Western junior starter George Bielizna (Danbury, Conn.) for four runs in the second inning to take the early lead. Junior Zach Quintal (Eliot, Maine/Marshwood) had the big blow in the frame with a bases-loaded triple that cleared the sacks. Quintal scored the fourth run with some aggressive base running on Dexter's fielder's choice.
USM picked up a run in the fifth on Hillier's RBI single that scored Hapworth. In the sixth, Bielizna nicked senior Kyle Heath (Westbrook, Maine) and Quintal with pitches and paid the price when Dexter pounded a stand-up triple to right-center field scoring both.
Dexter finished the nightcap going 4 for 5 with three RBI. Hapworth had three hits, including a double. Rookie Logan Terry (Ellington, Conn.) had a pair of singles to account for two of the Colonials' five hits.
Bielizna went seven innings allowing seven runs (six earned) on nine hits, one walk and three hit batsmen while striking out three. He is now 1-3 on the season.
Southern Maine is scheduled for a single game on Sunday (1 p.m.) at Wheaton College. Western Connecticut travels to CCNY for a non-conference doubleheader on Sunday (11 a.m.).