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College Baseball: Pitching keeps SNHU in title hunt

Special to the Union Leader

May 29. 2018 4:01AM

SNHU's Andrew Lalonde, of Bedford, pitches against Felician during a regional game earlier this month. (BRUCE TAYLOR/UNION LEADER)

CARY, N.C. — Scott Loiseau hasn’t exactly been haunted by a decision he made the last time he brought his Southern New Hampshire baseball team to North Carolina for the NCAA Division II College World Series.

But he hasn’t forgotten about it, either.

In fact, if given the chance, he said he’d do exactly the same thing he did in a crushing 2012 loss to West Chester by turning the game over to his bullpen to protect a slim eighth-inning lead.

Sunday, on the very same field at the USA Baseball Training Center, Loiseau proved to be a man of his word.

Faced with a similar situation in an elimination game against Southern Indiana, the veteran coach summoned Bedford’s Andrew Lalonde to the mound in place of his still-effective starter Shane McDonald.

Unlike the last time when his closer was touched for four runs, this time the move paid off. Lalonde got out of a bases-loaded jam, then breezed through the ninth to give the Penmen a 3-0 victory that extended their stay in the double-elimination national championship tournament.

Because of a weather-related schedule change, SNHU won’t play again until Wednesday at 3 p.m., when it faces another elimination game against either Florida Southern or Augustana.

“The nice thing this time is that Andy was fresh,” Loiseau said of Lalonde, who recorded his first save of the year. “Powers (Alex Powers, the closer in 2012) had thrown the day before and I told myself I was only going to try to get one (inning) out of him, then I tried to squeeze two out of him. Today, I would have gone with Andy in the fifth if I needed to.”

He didn’t need to, with the way McDonald was throwing.

Even though he said he didn’t have his best stuff, the senior left-hander was masterful in allowing two hits and one walk over 7⅓ shutout innings. While he struck out only three, USI never seemed to make solid contact against him, allowing the SNHU defense to make all the plays behind him.

“I was a little effectively wild,” McDonald said. “My fastball wasn’t as firm as it usually is, but it was still getting good run and was tough for guys to barrel up. I was trying to do the best I could all day and fortunately we came out with the win.”

The Penmen (40-16) got all the runs McDonald needed in the top of the third when eighth hitter Kyle Pangallo — the hottest man in the lineup with four hits in two CWS games — led off with a single. Joshua Goldstein followed with a hit to put two men on for the top of the order.

Bow’s Tom Blandini and Thomas Buonopane then delivered the runs with RBI singles, the latter coming on an 0-2 pitch.

“When we score early, we feel better because we’re not playing from behind,” Blandini said. “Our bats came alive, thankfully. The hits came when they needed to.”

The Penmen finished with eight hits in the game, twice the number they had in their opening game loss to Florida Southern on Saturday. Among them was a ninth-inning triple by Ryan Sullivan that led to a valuable insurance run.

SNHU also cut its strikeouts in half from 10 in its loss to five in its win.