PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Senior reserve 1B Vinny Smith (Alvord, Iowa) reached base in all five plate appearances and freshman Steve Wheeler (Lancaster, N.H./White Mtn. Reg.) threw three-and-two-thirds innings of shutout relief Thursday afternoon to lead Plymouth State University to a 9-4 non-conference baseball victory over Rivier College at Panther Park.
Smith, who was 1-for-9 this season coming into the game, registered three hits while also reaching on a walk and a hit-by-pitch. His single to lead off the sixth inning sparked a five-run rally that turned a 4-2 Rivier lead into a 7-4 Panther advantage. Wheeler, who came on to pitch with two on and one out in the top of the sixth, got a double-play ball to end the sixth and went on to allow only four hits and no runs the rest of the way.
PSU took a 2-0 lead in the first inning without a hit, thanks to a walk, a hit batter and two Raider errors. Rivier tied it up in the fifth when sophomore Bobby Gibbons (Littleton, Mass.) doubled with one runner on, and freshman Kevin Moyer (Georgetown, Mass.) followed with a two-run single. The Raiders took the lead in the sixth when Roger LaRochelle cracked an RBI double and came around to score on a single by Moyer.
The Panthers took the lead for good with the sixth-inning rally, which included two-run singles by senior Derek Guimond (Lewiston, Maine) and junior C.J. Rousseau (Merrimack, N.H.). The fifth run scored when senior Matt Gabellieri (Lincoln, R.I.) came home on a suicide squeeze by freshman Brandon Hodge (Bradford, Vt.). Gabellieri also added an RBI single in the seventh inning.
The win snapped a five-game losing skid for PSU, improving the Panthers to 5-15 overall, while Rivier falls to 2-6. PSU returns to action Saturday with a Little East Conference doubleheader at Western Connecticut (12:00 p.m.) Rivier plays at Norwich on Sunday (1:00 p.m.)
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