LEWISTON, Maine -- The No. 16 nationally ranked University of Southern Maine erased a 4-0 deficit with three runs in the sixth and six more in the seventh, defeating the Bates College baseball team 9-4 in a nine-inning, non-conference game Wednesday at Leahey Field.
The Huskies rose to 31-6 with their sixth consecutive win, while Bates (15-16) dipped under the .500 mark with its second loss in a row.
Bates led 4-0 and was outhitting USM 7-3 through five innings, but the tide began to turn in the sixth, when USM took advantage of a pair of Bates errors and plated three unearned runs off of junior starting pitcher Tom Baroni (Mount Kisco, N.Y.). Anthony Pisani led off reaching on an error by Bates senior shortstop Ryan Sonberg (Windsor, Conn.), and he made it to third when Tucker White followed with a single to right. Forrest Chadwick drove in Pisani with a single through the left side for the Huskies' first run. Nick Grady, who was 3-for-5 on the day, grounded into a double play to stall the rally and bring up Chris Bernard, whose fly to left field was misplayed, allowing White to score and keep the inning alive. John Carey drove a single to center to score Bernard with USM's third run, before Baroni struck out Matt Verrier to end the inning.
USM starter Dan Kinnon rebounded from a rocky first two innings to retire the side in order in the third, fourth and fifth. After Kinnon walked Samuel Warren to lead off the bottom of the sixth, Andrew Richards was summoned in relief, and Warren was promptly picked off of first base. Senior Kevin McGregor (Randolph, N.J.) then doubled, but Richards got the next two Bobcats out to take USM to the top of the seventh.
Baroni walked Troy Thibodeau, then saw Sam Dexter double down the left-field line to lead off the seventh, and he gave way to reliever Connor Colombo -- the first time in six starts that Baroni (2-3) didn't last at least seven innings. Pisani greeted Colombo with a hard single on his first pitch, and a misplay in center field allowed both runners to come home and Pisani to advance to second. A passed ball, a hit-by-pitch and a balk kept the rally going for the Huskies and scored Pisani before a comebacker to the mound by Chadwick allowed Colombo to chalk up the first out. Grady then followed with a triple into the gap in right center to score White, and Bernard followed with an RBI single scoring Grady. Colombo was then replaced by senior Mike Antonellis (Sudbury, Mass.), with the score suddenly 8-4 in USM's favor, one out and a runner on. Bernard stole second base, made it to third on a wild pitch, then scored on Carey's RBI groundout before Antonellis ended the inning by inducing another ground ball.
Richards (5-1) pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh, and Antonellis did the same for Bates in the top of the eighth. USM reliever Dylan Morris threw a perfect eighth inning, and Luke Hammond and Ryan Browner combined to hold the Bobcats scoreless and leave two runners on base in the ninth, preserving the win.
Bates scored three runs in the first inning. Sonberg hit a one-out double down the left-field line, and then scored on first-year Sam Berry's (South Hamilton, Mass.) two-out double to right center. Sophomore Nate Pajka (Douglas, Mass.) and first-year Samuel Warren (Norfolk, Va.) then delivered back-to-back RBI singles to make it 3-0. Bates got two additional singles in the inning, from McGregor and junior Steve Burke (Bedford, N.H.), but Warren was thrown out at home plate trying to score on Burke's hit to center field.
Berry, who finished 2-for-4, drove in his second run of the day in the second, scoring sophomore Mekae Hyde (Lewiston, Maine), who had walked and advanced to second on another walk issued to Sonberg. McGregor and Berry were both 2-for-4 to lead Bates' eight-hit performance at the plate.
Grady had three of the Huskies' 11 hits, while Chadwich was 2-for-5. Pisani scored two runs and drove in two more, and Carey had two RBIs as well.
Bates will host Colby on Friday at 4pm for a nine-inning game, recently added to the Bobcats' schedule. Southern Maine hosts UMass-Dartmouth on Friday in a doubleheader starting at 12pm.