MANSFIELD, Conn. – Freshman pinch-hitter Grace Leone's (Brick, NJ) suicide squeeze in the bottom of the sixth inning proved to be the game-winner in the first game and three players drove in a run in the third inning to snap a tie in the second game as the Eastern Connecticut State University softball team swept the University of Massachusetts Boston, 5-4 and 6-3 Saturday afternoon at Clyde Washburne Field.
With the sweep, Eastern (17-5, 6-2 LEC) keeps pace atop the conference standings with the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, which swept homestanding Rhode Island College Saturday. UMass Boston (14-11, 3-5), the two-time defending LEC tournament champions, had won six of seven entering the game.
Trailing 3-1 in the first game, Eastern went ahead, 4-3 in the fifth when Sara Pisanelli (Wallingford) andfreshman Julia SanGiovanni (East Haven) drove in runs. After the Beacons tied the game, 4-4 in the top of the sixth with an unearned run on an infield fielding error and Ari Bilotta's two-out single, the Warriors plated what proved to be the winning run. Sabrina LeMere (North Branford) singled and stole second, moved up on an infield ground ball, and charged home on Leone's perfect bunt on the second pitch from losing pitcher Jess Greenspan (Rocky Hill).
Jackie Arndt (Chelmsford, MA) pitched the final two innings in the first game for her first win in two decisions. She gave up one hit and no earned runs while fanning three and walking one.
Pisanelli opened the third inning of a tied second game with a tie-breaking home run – her team-leading fifth of the season and tenth of her career – and Leone and No. 9 hitter Laura Zenk (Hermon, ME) contributed run-producing singles to make it 5-2.
At left: Prior to Saturday's game, Sara Pisanelli was presented a ball by head coach Diana Pepin in recognition of her 100th career hit earlier in the week.
In the second game, Haleigh Cardello (Litchfield, NH) pitched the first five earnings for her fourth win against two losses, and first-game starter Morgan Sanson (Thomaston) gained her third save with the final two hitless innings.
On the day, SanGiovanni and Pisanelli each had three hits, with Pisanelli driving in three runs and Leone two. Zenk reached safely four times with two hits and two walks and scored twice.
Batting leadoff, Gigi Braga had four hits, scored three runs and stole two bases and Bilotta drove in three runs.
Eastern visits Western Connecticut in an LEC doubleheader at 5 p.m.