MANSFIELD Conn. – A day after getting it done at the plate, Shawn Gilblair was dealing on the mound.
The senior drove in four runs with his bat in Thursday’s 13-2 win over Suffolk, but it was his arm that guided Eastern Connecticut to 7-2 win over Southern Maine that knocked the Huskies from the New England Regional of the NCAA Division III Tournament.
“Early I mainly worked with a fastball and slider and I was really locating the fastball well. in and out, wherever I wanted it, that’s where it ended up.,” said Gilblair, who dominated a potent USM lineup with fourteen strikeouts in seven innings. He allowed just five hits to the Huskies, who entered the day hitting .344.
He had plenty of offensive help too, as the Warriors tacked on a pair of runs in the bottom of the first.
Southern Maine sliced Eastern’s lead in half in the top of the second when senior Ryan Pike launched a towering solo home run over the left field score board to lead off the inning.
The Warriors added three in the fourth, highlighted by an RBI double down the left field line by sophomore Jim Schult.
USM hurt themselves with five errors, leading to six unearned runs on the day.
And with Gilblair on the mound, the Huskies could ill-afford to give away runs.
“We’ve got Shawn coming back the next four years to Eastern,” head coach Bill Holowaty deadpanned. “He’ll be assuming another name and we’ll give him a mustaches and dye his hair. You’ve seen probably one of the better ballplayers we’ve had in the program since I’ve been around here,” the 41st year head coach said. He’s” a vicious competitor. You start to get spoiled having a ballplayer like that. I sit there and I get amazed how he can control a game.”
Southern Maine (36-9) became the fourth team to get eliminated in the eight team tournament, joining Suffolk, Westfield State, and Babson.
“I’m proud of my players,” USM head coach Ed Flaherty said. “We got a tough draw today. I’m not making excuses, but we had to face the No. 3 and No. 5 teams in the nation and two of the best pitchers in the nation in the same day. I don’t care what you say, that’s tough. But I thought our kids battled.”
Eastern will face Husson tomorrow at 11 a.m.