April 2, 2011



Providence, RI- The Rhode Island College baseball team relied on clutch hitting from senior designated hitter Gary Levesque (East Providence, RI) and standout pitching from both junior starter Rob Rushton (Freetown, MA) and sophomore closer Josh Lynch (West Greenwich, RI) to salvage a split (12-9 L; 4-2 W) of Saturday's Little East Conference doubleheader against Keene State at Anchorman field.


Levesque, looking for redemption after taking the loss on the mound in the first game, came to bat in the top of the seventh with his team trailing, 2-1, as they had been since the first inning. Opportunity presented itself to Levesque after junior first baseman Dan Hopkins (Cranston, RI) got on in front of him with a leadoff single to left. Levesque capitalized, blasting an opposite-field home run (2) over the fence in right-center field to give the Anchormen their first lead of the nightcap, 3-2.



 Senior designated hitter Gary Levesque


The Anchormen (7-8, 1-1) added a crucial, unearned insurance run in the eighth thanks to a fielding error and wild pitch, which aided junior shortstop Kyle Allaire's (Uxbridge, MA) journey around the bases following a leadoff single. 


Rushton (2-0) turned in a fine performance, going 7.1 innings and shutting down a Keene offense, which previously pounded out 12 runs, 13 hits and four homers in the first game. The righty allowed just two runs, both earned in the first inning, on seven hits, striking out four and walking two. Rushton got stronger as the game progressed, allowing just three hits and working five hitless frames over his final 6.1 innings of work.


The Owls (12-4, 1-1) threatened to tie the game in the eighth, and chased Rushton from the game after placing runners at first and second with only one out. But Lynch came in from the bullpen to register a strikeout and fielder's choice to end the threat.  Lynch worked around a leadoff walk in the ninth to record his first save.  Junior second baseman Joan Mustafa (Providence, RI) snared a hard liner off the bat of freshman pinch hitter Drake Deluga (Dennis, MA) and doubled off the runner at first to end the game.



 Junior pitcher Rob Rushton


The early game was a slugfest characteristic of a Little East doubleheader. The two teams combined for 21 runs and 30 hits. But the Owls controlled the game for most of the day, homering four times and slamming six extra-base hits en route to a 12-9 win.


Keene State senior outfielder Bobby Doyon (Keene, NH) demonstrated why he is the reigning Little East Conference Player of the Year in the first game, belting a pair of home runs and a triple in a 3-for-4 game. Doyon drove in four runs and scored three.  His first long ball, a two-run shot in the top of the sixth, erased a 5-3 deficit and sparked a five-run inning for the Owls, which shifted momentum for good. The slugger left the yard again with a man on in the seventh to widen Keene's advantage to a commanding 9-5. Doyon, who went 2-for-3 in the second game, finished the day with five hits, and reached base in seven of his nine plate appearances. 


In the top of the eighth, freshman outfielder Dan Barzotinni (Manchester, CT) made his collegiate debut unforgettable. Entering the game as a pinch-hitter, Barzotinni launched a two-run bomb over the raised wall in left field to extend Keene's lead to a game-high seven, 12-5. The Owls' other home run belonged to junior designated hitter Larry Longo (Londonderry, NH), who tied the game, 3-3, with a two-run shot in the top of the fourth.


The Anchormen outhit the Owls, 17-13, in the first game, but failed to fully capitalize on most opportunities. An untimely double play with the bases loaded killed a potential RIC rally in the seventh, and the Anchormen left them loaded in the eighth, mustering only one run from a three-hit inning. The Anchormen left 13 men on base, while the Owls left just four aboard. Incredibly, Keene managed to strand only two runners while scoring 10 runs over the first seven innings.


Allaire and Levesque headlined the offense for RIC in the first game, each going 3-for-5 with a double and two RBI.  Senior catcher Justin Corso (Cranston, RI) also had a 3-for-5 game, with three singles and an RBI.


Keene sophomore Adam Stanclift (Keene, NH) earned the win in relief (3-0), giving Keene big outs over 4.1 innings of work after junior starter Tim Theising (South Grafton, MA) was chased from the game in the third inning. Stanclift allowed just two earned runs in the slugfest and scattered seven hits, registering three strikeouts and one walk. Levesque (2-2) took the loss, surrendering 10 runs eight earned in six-plus innings of work. Levesque allowed 11 hits, struck out five, and walked one. A three-run, ninth-inning rally by the Anchormen set up a backdoor save situation for sophomore reliever Joe Katin (Byfield, MA), who set down the only batter he faced to record his first save.


Anchorman junior infielder Mike Giustino (Wappingers Falls, NY) had triples in back-to-back at bats and scored twice in a 2-for-4 day. Giustino delivered a pinch-hit three bagger in the final inning of the first game, and then opened up the nightcap with another.


In upcoming action, Rhode Island College will host Salem State on Monday, April 4 (3:30 p.m.)