GORHAM, Maine. -- Ryan Rotondo of third-seeded Rhode Island College ended the game with a single on the first pitch he saw from reliever junior Drew Alexopoulos (Hansen, MA) with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning to send fourth-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University into an elimination game, 5-4, in the opening round of the six-team, double-elimination Little East Conference baseball tournament Wednesday night at Ed Flaherty Field.
Eastern (22-17) faces No. 1 seed and host University of Southern Maine (32-5) Thursday at 3:30 p.m., needing a win to remain alive. The Huskies edged No. 6 Castleton University, 5-3, in Wednesday's first game. In Wednesday's second game, second-seeded and defending champion Massachusetts Boston survived in 11 innings, 2-1, over No. 5 Massachusetts Dartmouth.
Against Rhode Island (26-14), the Warriors managed only one run on four hits against junior righty Mike Webb through eight innings, but rallied to tie the game, 4-4, with three runs in the top of the ninth off junior lefty Jake Rockefeller (5-4). Rockefeller had been summoned in search of his fifth save at the start of the inning.
Senior William Coleman's (Northford) leadoff infield single was the only hit in the ninth, but Eastern capitalized on a walk, two hit batters and an infield throwing error on junior John Mesagno's (Tappan, NY) that plated the tying runs. Rockefeller escaped further damage, however, with an inning-ending strikeout on a 3-2 pitch.
Eastern senior righty Jordan Muchin (West Hartford) was lifted in the bottom of the ninth after No. 9 hitter Josh Silva singled on a full count to open the frame. Silva stole second, and after senior righty Cole Ogorzalek (Portland) struck out pinch hitter Nate Donovan and Nate Vigeant was walked intentionally, No. 3 hitter Rotondo ended the game with a single to left-center.
Eastern tied the game in the top of the second on freshman Matt Malcom's (East Lyme) leadoff triple and an infield error. Malcom had two of Eastern's five hits in the game and senior shortstop Dale Keller (Oxford) reached three times with two walks and a hit.
Muchin (4-5) fanned seven, walked one and allowed 11 hits over the first eight innings.
Rhode Island had swept the season series from Eastern and defeated the Warriors three times in a season for the first time in the 114-game series.