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USM wins opener!

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Freshman Andrew Olszak’s (Danvers, Mass.) two-run single in the sixth inning snapped a 2-2 tie and the University of Southern Maine Huskies went on to defeat the Castleton University Spartans 5-3 Thursday afternoon in a first-round game of the NCAA Division III New York Regional Tournament being played at Onondaga Community College.

The teams traded runs in the first and fifth innings to create a 2-2 tie. In the sixth inning, the Huskies loaded the bases on singles from sophomores Andrew Hillier (Bangor, Maine) and Devin Warren (Smithfield, Maine/Messalonskee), and a walk to sophomore Zach Quintal (Eliot, Maine/Marshwood) to set the stage for Quintal. The rookie shortstop, who went 4 for 5 in the game, knocked a pitch from Castleton senior Michael LaBeau (Bellows Falls, Vt.) back up the middle to score Hillier and Warren to give the Huskies a 4-2 lead.

Castleton chipped away for one run against USM sophomore southpaw Matt Correale (Peabody, Mass.), but classmate Jake Dexter (Oakland, Maine/Messalonskee) came on to retire nine straight Spartans, including five by way of the strikeout, to earn his school-record 12th save of the season. Correale walked sophomore Matt Jackson (Shrewsbury, Mass.) to lead off the inning, and junior Jonathan Lindau (Middletown, N.Y.) followed with a single to put runners on the corners. Dexter was summoned from his second base position and got sophomore Dylan Bailey (Duxbury, Vt.) on a tough groundout to third that allowed Jackson to score. Dexter struck out the next two batters to end the frame, and did not allow a base runner in the eight or ninth innings.

USM added an insurance run in the seventh with two out as senior Paul McDonough (Wells, Maine) walked, stole second and scored on Hillier’s double to left-center field. Hillier’s double was the Huskies lone extra-base hit among their 14 hits. Olszak led the way with four singles, and Warren, Hillier and sophomore Kip Richard (Kennebunk, Maine) had two hits apiece.

In the opening inning, Castleton took advantage of a walk and stole base by sophomore Deagan Poland (Williston, Vt.), a wild pitch and a one-out single from senior Dillon Bahan (Shaftsbury, Vt.) to take a 1-0 lead. USM came back with consecutive singles from Quintal, Olszak and rookie Dylan Hapworth (Winslow, Maine) to tie the game. A fourth single by Richard loaded the bases, but Castleton senior starter Devin Hayes (Vergennes, Vt.) escaped by getting a double play and a strikeout to end the inning.

In the fifth, Lindau opened the frame with a single before the rain halted the game. Nearly three hours later, Lindau moved up two bases on two wild pitches by Correale and scored on a single by Poland. USM matched that run in the home half when senior Matt Bender (Walpole, Mass.) singled sharply off Hayes foot with two outs to score Quintal and end Hayes outing.

Correale picked up his sixth win of the season in his 31st appearance. He worked two innings allowing one run on two hits and two walks while striking out one. Sophomore starter Dalton Rice (Waterford, Maine/Oxford Hills) worked the first four-plus innings allowing two runs on three hits and a walk, and struck out five before the thunderstorms came.

Lindau had three of the Spartans’ five hits in the game. LaBeau was tagged with his fourth loss of the season against five wins.

The victory moves the Huskies (31-11), the second seed, into Game Six tomorrow night against the winner of the Game Three between Tufts University and The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). The Spartans (34-9), the fifth seed in the six-team, double-elimination tournament, will face Ithaca College in Game Four. Ithaca dropped a heartbreaker in the opening game when top-seeded Oswego State scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning for an 11-10 win.

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