TROY, N.Y. – The previous two times the Eastern Connecticut State University and RPI baseball teams had met, the stakes were high: the first time in NCAA national tournament play in 2002 and the last time in the NCAA regional tournament six years later.
Wednesday, Eastern was looking to climb back over .500, while RPI was hoping to reach .500.
Leading 4-3 after pushing across three runs in the eighth, Eastern (14-13) broke the game open by scoring eight runs in the ninth – keyed by senior Alex Parkos' (Meriden) two-run home run and junior John Mesagno's (Tappen, NY) bases-leading double – to post a 12-3 non-conference victory at Robison Field.
Seven of Eastern's runs in the ninth came after there were two out and four were unearned after a two-out infield throwing error. The Warriors went 13 batters to the plate against three pitchers, who also walked three (one with the bases loaded) and hit a batter in addition to yielding four hits (three of them good for extra bases). With one varsity at-bat to his credit, freshman Dean Slavin (Tappan, NY) recorded his first career hit, extra-base hit, RBI and run in the inning, with a double.
The third of four Eastern pitchers, senior righty Cole Ogorzalek (Portland) worked two innings for his second win without a loss. Eastern's inability to score in the middle innings was costly to sophomore righty Bryant Albee (Killingly). Albee was summoned with the bases loaded and no out and Eastern trailing 2-0 in the second and escaped with a strikeout, line out and ground ball. In all, he gave up only one run on three hits with six strikeouts and one walk in five innings, but departed after the first two batters of the seventh reached on singles and Eastern trailing 2-1.
Down 3-1, the Warriors surged in front by scoring three runs in the eighth on five hits. Parkos delivered the tying runs with a double, and sophomore Jack Rich (Meriden) put the Warriors in front with a two-out single that scored Parkos.
Parkos,, senior outfielder Ryan Hood (Arlington, MA), freshman catcher Matt Malcom (East Lyme), Rich and Mesagno all had two hits, with Hood, Parkos, Malcom and Mesagno all scoring twice. Mesagno, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth, drove in three runs.
Over the last five games, Parkos is 8-of-15 and has raised his batting average 55 points to .264.
Eastern faces Plymouth State University in a Little East Conference doubleheader Friday at 3:30 p.m. at Southern New Hampshire University.