MANSFIELD, Conn.—Defending Little East Conference Champion Eastern Connecticut State University (7-5, 2-0) earned their 17th and 18th consecutive LEC regular season victories, with a pair of wins over UMass Boston (5-10, 0-2) at the Eastern Connecticut State Softball Field Saturday afternoon.
While the Warriors graduated four-time All-American pitcher Molly Rathbun, the Beacons still struggled to score against the Little East Conference favorites, putting just three runs on the board in two games. The Warriors won game one by an 8-2 score, before earning the sweep with a 9-1 six-inning mercy-rule victory.
Despite totaling 20 hits throughout the course of the two games, Erika Vecchiet (Pequannock, N.J.) was the only run-producer for the Beacons, registering all three of UMB's RBI on the day. The junior second baseman finished the day 1-for-4 with a pair of sacrifice flies.
The top half of the Beacons order provided the brunt of the hits on the day, as seniors Kelsey Souza (Braintree, Mass.), Taryn Asta (Marshfield, Mass.) and Sue Killilea (Abington, Mass.) combined to finish 12-for-20, with Souza scoring all three UMB runs. Souza put together one of her best doubleheaders of the season, recording five hits in seven trips to the plate.
Game One: Eastern Connecticut State 8, UMass Boston 2
The Warriors used a four-run bottom of the third inning to take control of Saturday's first game and Erin Miller held the Beacons scoreless from there, as Eastern Connecticut went above .500 for only the second time this season.
Eastern Connecticut State's Megan Godwin and Kelly Patterson led the way for the Warriors with five hits and six RBI. On the mound, Miller allowed two runs on 11 hits over the course of seven innings, to move to 3-1 on the year.
Vecchiet would provide all of the Beacons' offense, as she registered two go-ahead sacrifice flies in the opening innings that scored Souza.
Freshman Emily Gray (New Bedford, Mass.) took the loss for UMB, allowing eight runs, five earned, in six innings.
UMass Boston jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, when Souza and Killilea each singled and Vecchiet plated Souza with a sacrifice fly to left field.
The Warriors responded in the bottom half of the inning with a run of their own, only to have the Beacons make it 2-1 in the third. Souza led off with a single and moved over to third base with one out, on a sacrifice bunt from Asta and a bunt single from Killilea. Vecchiet once again came up in the clutch, with a long fly ball to right field that was deep enough to score Souza.
Eastern Connecticut State went ahead for good in the third inning behind four base hits and an error. After Godwin put the Warriors ahead 3-2 with one out, Patterson gave the host team some breathing room, with a 2-out, 2-run double to right-center field.
That would be more than enough for Miller, who held UMB to an 0-for-7 showing with runners in scoring position.
Game Two: Eastern Connecticut State 9, UMass Boston 1 (6 Innings)
Game two would be more of the same, as UMB jumped out to an early lead, only to have the Warriors strike for nine-straight runs over the final five-and-a-half innings.
Christine Acker was dominant in the pitching circle for Eastern Connecticut, allowing nine hits and one earned run in six innings of work.
Sam Rossetti finished 3-for-4 with 3 RBI for the hosts, while Mattie Brett and Alicia White each tacked on two RBI apiece.
Souza and Killilea led the Beacons with two hits apiece, while five other UMB players recorded a base hit.
On the mound, Michelle Zullo (Everett, Mass.) took the loss, giving up nine runs, seven earned, in six innings.
The Beacons took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, when Vecchiet singled to left field to score Souza from third base, after the senior third baseman had reached with a leadoff walk.
Eastern Connecticut responded with a run of their own in the bottom half, when White doubled to center field, to score Arielle Cooper from third base.
After a scoreless second inning, the Warriors blew the game wide open in the bottom of the third, with a 5-run outburst spurred by three doubles. The Warriors put the game away in the sixth inning, on a Rosetti walk-off single, to earn the 9-1 win.
UMass Boston will return to non-conference action Tuesday, when they travel to Wheaton College for a pair of game beginning at 3 p.m.