Stonehill Jumps Out Early on UMass Lowell, 7-3

Junior Rich McHugh was 2-for-3 with a triple, double and two RBI to key the Skyhawks offensive effort. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr) 

Skyhawks ride seven run lead after three to key NE-10 win

EASTON, Mass. (April 10, 2011) – Stonehill College, ranked fifth in this week's National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Division II East Regional poll, scored seven runs over the first three innings and made them stand the rest of the way in posting a 7-3 victory over the University of Massachusetts Lowell, ranked fourth in the NCBWA East Regional poll, in a key Northeast-10 Conference baseball matchup at Lou Gorman Field this afternoon.

Junior Rich McHugh (Pembroke, Mass./Thayer Academy) hit 2-for-3 with a triple, double, a run scored and two RBI. Senior Scott Hackett (Bangor, Maine/Bangor) was 1-for-4 with a home run and three RBI, while classmate Nick Nardacci (Glenmont, N.Y./Bethlehem Central) batted 2-for-4 with a stolen base and two runs scored. Junior Kyle Shepard (Boxford, Mass./Masconomet) went 2-for-4 for the Skyhawks.

Freshman lefthander Zach Soulier (Milford, Conn./Jonathan Law) improved to 4-0 in his first collegiate season with seven strong innings, allowing two runs, just one earned, on six hits with two strikeouts and a walk. Senior Brenden Shepard (Boxford, Mass./Masconomet) pinned down his Conference leading eighth save of the season with 1.1 scoreless innings of relief, striking out three with no walks and working around two hits.

Freshman Zach Soulier is 4-0 in his first collegiate season after firing seven strong innings on the mound.

Junior Cam Kneeland (Rowley, Mass./Triton Regional) led UMass Lowell's ten hit attack as he went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a run scored. Classmate Rob Noe (Lynnfield, Mass./St. John's Prep) hit 1-for-3 with an RBI, while senior Connor Burnham (Harwich, Mass./Harwich) finished 1-for-4 with a double and RBI. Senior Sean Burns (Colchester, Vt./Colchester) batted 2-for-5 with a run scored.

Senior righthander Dustin Ramey (Kingston, N.H./Sanborn Regional) took the loss (2-3), allowing six earned runs on three hits with three strikeouts and two walks over two innings.

Stonehill scored three in each of the first two innings before adding a single run in the third to stake out the 7-0 lead. Nardacci was hit by a Ramey pitch to lead off the bottom of the first and later scored when junior Michael White (Lisbon, N.H./Lisbon Regional) reached on a fielder's choice. McHugh keyed the inning with a two-run triple to right center to drive in White and senior Angelo Bruno (Norwalk, Conn./Norwalk), who walked.

Sophomore James DeAlto (Briarcliff Manor, N.Y./Briarcliff) walked and Nardacci singled in the second before Hackett drilled his second home run of the season to straightaway centerfield. McHugh led off the third with a double to left center off UMass Lowell reliever Geoff Fisher (Londonderry, N.H./Londonderry). McHugh advanced to third on a single by Kyle Shepard and then scored on a sacrifice fly by junior Steven Popp (Unionville, Conn./Farmington).

UMass Lowell strung together single runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to get back in the game. Kneeland doubled for the second time in the sixth and later scored on a throwing error, before Burnham had an RBI double in the seventh. The River Hawks loaded the bases on Stonehill junior lefthander Michael Von Stein (Trumbull, Conn./Trumbull) in the eighth, scoring a run on a sac fly by Noe. Von Stein got a ground out and then Brenden Shepard came on and got a strikeout with runners on second and third to end the threat.

UMass Lowell loaded the bases again off Shepard with one out in the ninth on a pair of singles and an error, but the Stonehill righthander got a pop out and strikeout to clinch the Skyhawks third-straight victory and ninth over their last ten.

Stonehill (22-6, 9-4 NE-10) and UMass Lowell (23-8, 8-3 NE-10) conclude their two game NE-10 series on Wednesday at LeLacheur Park in Lowell at 3:30 p.m. The Skyhawks return home on Thursday to host Southern New Hampshire University at Gorman Field at 3:30 p.m.

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