HARWICH, Mass. — The University of Southern Maine baseball team has averaged almost seven runs per game this season with a .294 batting average.

But those stats weren’t worth much Thursday in an NCAA Division III New England Regional winners’-bracket game against Salem State.

Mike Richardson held the top-seeded Huskies to five hits, just three out of the infield, as fourth-seeded Salem State cruised to a 10-1 victory.

Southern Maine (32-14) fell into the losers’ bracket of the eight-team, double-elimination event and will play No. 2 Wesleyan (29-10) at 10 a.m. Friday.

USM starting pitcher Tyler Leavitt was knocked out before he could retire a batter in the second inning, yielding eight runs, four earned.

“I think if you put us in a close game, the hitting would change,” Huskies Coach Ed Flaherty said. “Any time you get a 9-0 game after two innings, you’re pressed to hit. You’re swinging at some bad pitches.

“That intenseness leaves you a little bit. Plus, (Richardson) kept pitching well. He could have let up, too. In those middle innings he was pitching well and changing speeds.”

Salem State (27-13) scored four unearned runs in the first on three hits, an error and a walk.

Dan Connors walked to load the bases and Colton Fontaine followed with a sharp one-hopper to third baseman Matt Bender.

His throw home would have forced Kevin Carens, but Dylan Morris dropped the ball for an error.

One out later, Ryan Beliveau smoked a bases-clearing double to left-center.

“They jumped on (Leavitt),” Flaherty said. “Salem put pressure on him in the first inning. And we didn’t make a play (Morris’ error). If we make a play, that inning can change. But you still have to come back from that.

“I’ve seen him better but I think if he got through that first inning you might have seen a different Tyler the rest of the game.”

The Vikings scored five in the second to make it 9-0.

Salem State loaded the bases on two hits plus a walk.

Then Rich Fecteau pulled a two-run double to right that prompted Flaherty to remove Leavitt in favor of Robby Delaney.

Delaney didn’t fare much better, allowing a sacrifice fly by Connors and a two-run double by Beliveau.

The Huskies avoided a shutout when they nicked Richardson for a run in the eighth on Damon Wallace’s double, a groundout and then Sam Dexter’s sacrifice fly.

But they had a chance to get into the game in the second, only to trip over their spikes.

Bender and Devin Warren led off with line singles and after an out, Brandon Morris walked to load the bases.

Richardson got out of that jam by retiring Morris on a fly to short center and then striking out Nick Bowie.

“Anytime you have guys in scoring position and you’re behind, you try to drive in those guys,” Dexter said. “But we didn’t get a big hit today.

“You really can’t look back now. Everything is moving forward. This game is behind us now and we really can’t think about the past.”


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