MANSFIELD Conn.- The first three innings of the opening game of day two of the Division III New England Regional saw fifth seeded Suffolk match top seeded Eastern Connecticut run for run and the teams were tied 2-2 entering the fourth.
The Warriors pushed across two in top of the fourth to go ahead 4-2 and the Rams were poised to respond in turn during the bottom of the inning.
But Eastern’s Will Musson had other plans.
The junior overcame a bout of wildness in the inning to get Ram senior Paul Vittozzi looking on three pitches to get out of a bases loaded jam, and the Rams weren’t able to respond, falling to the Warriors 13-2.
“He’s one of the best four guys in New England,” Suffolk head coach Cary McConnell said. “He showed a few more breaking balls then we expected in our scouting report. He was able to keep his fast ball on the corners, he’s more of a north and south pitcher in that he’s up and down instead of east to west, so I thought we’d handle him a little better. But you have to give him credit, he battled all day.”
Musson also worked out of a one out jam in the sixth. After an infield single by senior Anthony Iacopucci, sophomore Mark Addessa lined a hard double off the left field wall.
However Musson buckled down once again, getting a groundout and striking out junior Rory Gentile.
Warrior sophomore Robert Perry started the fourth with a single up the middle and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. After a ground out, junior John Parker doubled down down the left field line to give Eastern a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Junior Travis Bass followed with an RBI single up the middle.
Eastern added two runs in each the sixth poured on five in the seventh, higlighted by sophomore Jim Schult’s booming two run triple to deep center.
Musson (9-0) turned in Eastern’s first complete game of the season, striking out a career high thirteen, including eight batters looking.
“The big think that I liked today was that our defense was pretty good,” Eastern head coach Bill Holowaty said. “We had no errors, but when you strike out thirteen guys you have thirteen less chances of making an error.”
With the win, Musson tied a school record for most wins without a loss, becoming the fifth pitcher in Warrior history to go 9-0.
“I’ve been working on a new pitch were I kind of drop down on my fastball, ” Musson said ” I felt when I changed my arm angle it kind of froze a lot of the hitters and I was able to just paint the outside corner.
Rams senior Reid Jackson (6-4) threw six and two-thirds innings with five strikeouts, but was hurt by four errors by his teammates. Suffolk committed five errors overall.
The Warriors added two in the ninth when Bass cranked his fifth hit of the game, a one out double down the right field line. He came around to score when Schult’s long fly ball to right was misplayed by senior Keith Carter. A sacrifice fly by senior Shawn Gilblair scored Scult with Eastern’s final run.
“The first two innings we left five guys on base so that didn’t look to darn good,” Hollowaty said. “I’m in there sitting and my stomachs going crazy. But the guys came and did a nice job.”
Eastern (36-7) will face the loser of the Southern Maine and Trinity game tomorrow at 1:15. Suffolk ends the season with a 30-11 mark.