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Hornets open NAC Tournament play by defeating Thomas

Hornets open NAC Tournament play by defeating Thomas

Bangor, ME - The Northern Vermont University-Lyndon baseball team pounded out 14 hits and received a dominant pitching performance from Jake Jourdain (Becket, MA) in defeating Thomas College, 10-4, in the opening round of the North Atlantic Conference Tournament on Friday afternoon.  The second seeded Hornets (22-19) will play top seed and tournament host Husson University at 3:00 pm on Saturday.  Thomas (12-23) will face fourth seeded University of Maine at Farmington in an elimination game at noon.  Husson defeated UMaine-Farmington 10-1 in Friday's first game.

After Jourdain retired the Terriers in order in the top of the first inning, the Hornets got on the board in the bottom half.  Ben Rollins (Lincolnville, ME) led off with a single down the left field line off of Thomas starter Dylan Copeland.  Codi Smith (Hartford, VT) followed with a base hit through the right side of the infield.  After Rollins moved to third on Zak Johnson's (East Hampton, CT) fly out and Smith stole second, Jason Doris (Lincoln, RI) walked to load the bases.  Caleb Laroche (Franklin, VT) lofted a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Rollins and giving the Hornets the lead.

After the Terriers stranded two runners in the top of the second, Lyndon tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the inning.  Noah Barton (South Burlington, VT) got things started with a one out single.  TJ Santaw (Newport, VT) drew a walk, then Rollins delivered an RBI single throught the left side, scoring Barton.  After Smith walked to load the bases, Johnson drove an 0-2 pitch to left center for a two-run double, scoring Santaw and Rollins and chasing Copeland.  Jacob Lacroix came on in relief for the Terriers and retired the next two hitters to get out of the innning.

Thomas got on the board in the top of the third inning.  After Jourdain struck out Bradly Smith, Alex Miller bounced a single back up the middle for the Terriers' first hit.  Tyler Gee followed with a single donw the left field line, then Ryan Kappelmann's base hit to right drove in Miller.  Jopurdain got Nick Bagley to hit into a double play to end the inning, leaving the Hornets with a 4-1 advantage.  Lacroix kept the Hornets off the scoreboard in the bottom of the inning, allowing only a two-out base hit to Barton.

In the top of the fourth inning, Jourdain produced a statistical rarity, striking out four Thomas hitters.  After getting Darren Kelly swinging and John Villanueva looking, Connor Rittenhouse swung at strike three out of the zone, but reached first on a wild pitch.  Jourdain then got Dominic Esposito swinging to end the inning.

The Hornets extended their lead in the bottom of the fourth.  Rollins led off with a base hit up the middle, then back to back walks to Smith and Johnson loaded the bases.  After Doris popped out, Laroche delivered a single down the left field line, scoring Rollins and Smith to make it 6-1, Lyndon.

Jourdain continued to dominate the Thomas hitters through the middle innings, allowing only a seventh inning walk to Esposito.  Meanwhile, Ryan Jurgiewich relieved Lacroix in the bottom of the fifth and kept the Hornets off the scoreboard for two innings.

Alic Shorey came on in relief for Thomas in the bottom of the seventh.  After Shorey got Tucker Root (Middlefield, CT) to ground out leading off, he yielded a base hit to Barton and back to back walks to Santaw and Rollins to load the bases.  Bagley then came on to pitch.  After Smith popped out, Johnson laced a bases clearing double to extend the Lyndon lead to 9-1 through seven.

With the Hornets holding a comfortable lead, Matt Page (Groton, VT) came on in the eighth in relief of Jourdain.  Page kept the Terriers at bay, allowing only Shane MacNeill's infield hit in the inning.

The Hornets added on another insurance run in the bottom of the eighth.  Chandler Moran came on to pitch for the Terriers and Laroche promptly greeted him with a base hit to left.  With two outs, Barton reached on an infield hit, leaving runners at the corners.  Laroche then came home on a wild pitch, extending the Lyndon lead to 10-1.

Thomas made things interesting in the top of the ninth.  Pinch hitter Nicholas Cousins started things with a leadoff base hit.  After Page retired the next two hitters, pinch hitter Antonio Cabrera walked then pinch hitter Adam Berger singled to load the bases.  Miller then drove a bases clearing double to deep left field to cut the Hornet lead to 10-4.  After MacNeill walked, Page got Kappelman to fly out to Laroche in left to end the ball game.

Jourdain picked up the win, allowing only one run and three hits over his seven innings of work.  He struck out 11 Terriers while allowing only three walks.  Copeland took the loss for Thomas,

The winner of tomorrow's Lyndon-Husson game will advance to Sunday's games against the team that emerges from the loser's bracket of the double elimination tournament.  The loser will play the winner of the Thomas vs UMaine-Farmington game in another elimination game at 6:00 pm Saturday.

All photos courtesy of Husson University Athletics.