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Four-Run Seventh Lifts Westfield State to 6-5 Win over Western New England in 2019 Opener

Senior Bob Hamel pitched six strong innings but did not receive a decision in Western New England's season-opening loss to Westfield State on Sunday. (Photo by Dave Caspole / Westfield State Athletics)
Senior Bob Hamel pitched six strong innings but did not receive a decision in Western New England's season-opening loss to Westfield State on Sunday. (Photo by Dave Caspole / Westfield State Athletics)

Hamel allows one earned run over six innings

HARTFORD, Conn. (March 3, 2019) – The Westfield State University baseball team used a four-run seventh inning rally to top Western New England University, 6-5, on Sunday afternoon in the season opener for both teams at Murren Family Field on the campus of Trinity College.

Top Performers
Senior left-hander Bob Hamel (Southwick, Mass.) got the start for Western New England and surrendered just one earned run on six hits with three strikeouts over six innings on the mound. Hamel, the 2018 NCAA Division III ERA leader, left the game with the Golden Bears holding a 5-2 lead before the Owls got to the Western New England bullpen in the seventh.

Offensively, Western New England was led by seniors Erik Lacaire (Worcester, Mass.) and Joe Cassella (Wallingford, Conn.), who both went 1-for-2 with two walks and two runs scored.

Seniors Ben LaCroix (Branford, Conn.) and Brian Valeriano (Stratford, Conn.) and junior Zac Nussbaum (Bridgewater, Mass.) all delivered RBI singles for the Golden Bears.

Westfield State junior outfielder Michael Cruz (Springfield, Mass.) went 2-for-5 with the go-ahead two-run single in the top of the seventh inning.

Junior catcher Jake Gibb (Stoughton, Mass.) posted a 2-for-3 effort with a walk, a double and two RBI, while senior outfielder Anthony Crowley (Bellingham, Mass.) reached base four times with two walks and two doubles.

Game Review
Westfield State opened the scoring in the top of the first inning, as Crowley walked with two outs and junior Brett Dooley (Cohasset, Mass.) ripped a double down the right field line before Gibb delivered an RBI single.

Western New England took its first lead with three runs in the bottom of the third inning. With runners on first and second base and one out, Nussbaum drove in Lacaire with an RBI single. Cassella eventually came in to score on a balk, while Nussbaum crossed home plate on an error that allowed LaCroix to reach base.

Westfield State got one run back in the top of the fifth, when Crowley doubled to left center, scoring senior Colin Dunn (Westfield, Mass.).

The Golden Bears were able to tack on two more runs in the bottom half of the inning, however, to open up a 5-2 lead. Lacaire led off with a walk and Cassella was also issued a free pass before Nussbaum flew out to center field. Valeriano came up next and singled to left center, scoring Lacaire, and LaCroix followed with a single to right center, bringing in Cassella.

Senior right-hander Paul Wetmore (Hamden, Conn.) came on for Hamel in the seventh and struggled with his control, as he walked Dunn and Dooley to load the bases after giving up a leadoff single to sophomore Nick Martin (Shrewsbury, Mass.).

After issuing two more walks to bring in a pair of runs for the Owls, Western New England brought in junior left-hander Jeff Zebrowski (South Hadley, Mass.), who gave up the go-ahead two-run single to Cruz.

Western New England was unable to get anything going offensively over the last three innings, as the Golden Bears went down in order in the seventh, eighth and ninth.

 Notes
• The Owls outhit the Golden Bears, 11-7
• Western New England committed four errors in the loss.

Up Next
Western New England (0-1) is off until next Saturday, when the Golden Bears make the short trip to city rival Springfield College. Westfield State (1-0) heads down south for seven games at the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational, which begins against Rhode Island College on Saturday morning.