Baseball: USM throttles Keene State in double-header

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GORHAM—The Huskies are hot this season, and picked up back-to-back wins when Keene State came to town for a double-header on Saturday, April 13: USM blasted the Owls 12-2 in seven innings in the first game, then 10-2 in a full nine-innings in the second game.

“Recently, we’ve had the upper-hand,” USM head coach Ed Flaherty said of his team’s history versus Keene. “[But you’ve] always got to take them seriously.”

Keene grabbed the first lead of the first bout, putting up two runs in the top of the third inning. But the rest of the contest belonged to the Huskies, who tallied three homeruns across the fourth, fifth and sixth. Andrew Hillier (Bangor, Maine/Bangor) knocked a grand-slam for the first of the trio, and Zach Quintal (Eliot, maine/Marshwood) and Devin Warren (Smithfield, Maine/Messalonskee) knocked a two-run shot apiece for the second and third, respectively.

All told, Andrew Olszak (Danvers, Massachusetts/Danvers) went 1-4 with one run and one RBI for the Huskies; Hillier went 1-4 with a run and four RBIs; Sam Troiano (South Portland, Maine/South Portland) went 2-3 with two runs; Jake Dexter (Oakland, Maine/Messalonskee) 2-3 with an RBI; Dylan Hapworth (Winslow, Maine/Winslow) 1-4 with a run; Warren 2-4 with three runs and two RBIs; Quintal 2-3 with two and two; Kip Richard (Kennebunk, Maine/Kennebunk) 1-3 with a run; and Jack Sylvia (Glastonbury, Connecticut/Dartmouth, Massachusetts) 2-3 with one and one. Troiano and Sylvia both had doubles.

That’s 14 hits in 32 at-bats. Meanwhile, starting pitcher Gage Feeney (Cutler, Maine/Washington Academy) worked five innings to pick up his third W of the spring; in relief, Tanner Laberge (Windham, Maine/Windham) retired all six of the six batters he met.

“We’re pretty strong, offensively,” Flaherty said, asked about his boys’ ability to crank out both big innings and consistent innings at the plate. “And we take advantage of other people’s mistakes. [In the fourth], their second baseman made an error, and we made a grand slam after.”

In game two, the Huskies jumped on top quick – Dexter belted a double to score Troiano in the first – and continued to pile on runs as the innings elapsed. USM went up 3-0 in the bottom of the fourth, when Quintal and Sylvia both logged RBI hits, the former notching a double and the latter a single. Keene finally got on the board in the top of the fifth, but the Huskies responded by doubling their total in the bottom of the stretch. Dexter did the 6-1 honors, smashing a three-run homer.

Keene would add one more – one in the ninth, that is – but by the time the fat lady sang, USM stood on top 10-2.

Olszak went 1-5 in the outing, Hillier 1-4 with a run, Troiano 3-4 with three runs, Dexter 3-4 with two runs and five RBIs, Hapworth 2-4 with a run, Quintal 1-3 with two runs and an RBI, Sylvia 2-4 with three RBIs, and Jason Komulainen (Gorham, Maine/Gorham) 1-3. Troiano, Dexter, Hapworth, Quintal and Sylvia all had doubles, and Dexter also logged a triple. Josh Joy (Smithfield, Maine/Messalonskee) picked up the win on the mound, giving up just one earned run and one walk in five innings. He also struck out two.

Flaherty nodded at his guys’ work on the defensive side of the ball. “The strength of our team is pitching and defense,” he said. “Any really good team, that’s what you’ve got first and foremost. We have one of the better teams we’ve had in our history. We’ll see where it goes from there.”

The Huskies met UMass Boston on Tuesday, April 16, winning 8-3. The team is now 20-4 overall. They hosted Endicott on Wednesday the 17th and travel to Babson on Thursday the 18th.

Adam Birt can be reached at abirt@keepmecurrent.com. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME

Andrew Hillier connects on a grand-slam homerun for the Huskies in their 12-2 win over Keene State.

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