HARTFORD, Conn. — Andrew Hillier hit a rare two-run sacrifice fly in the second inning, then belted a three-run homer during a seven-run third inning as the University of Southern Maine opened its NCAA Division III baseball tournament regional with a 17-2 win Thursday against Johnson & Wales.

Top-seeded USM (32-9) next plays at 2:30 p.m. Friday against fourth-seeded Salve Regina (14-5-1), which lost 5-4 to No. 3 Wheaton.

USM had little trouble against No. 6-seed Johnson & Wales (13-15), bashing 21 hits. Every starter got at least one hit, and Hillier, Tom Vesosky, Cam Seymour, Andrew Olszak and Dylan Hapworth collected three apiece. Hillier finished with six RBI.

The Huskies grabbed a 4-0 lead in the second inning. After a walk to Janek Luksza and a single by Hapworth, both runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a single by Brogan Searle-Belanger. Then, with the bases loaded later in the inning, Hillier flied out to right, but both Searle-Belanger and Vesosky were able to score after the outfielder crashed into the fence.

USM made it 11-0 in the third. The big blow in the inning was Hillier’s home run. Jason Komulainen, Seymour and Sam Troiano each added an RBI single, and Searle-Belanger hit a sacrifice fly.

With a comfortable lead, Coach Ed Flaherty was able to remove ace pitcher Ben Lambert (7-1) after he struck out 10 in five innings, allowing two hits and one run.

UMAINE 4, STONY BROOK 2: Nick Sinacola struck out 11 over seven innings, and the Black Bears (22-20) got home runs from Quinn McDaniel, Joe Bramanti and Colin Plante to beat the Seawolves (29-18) in the opening game of the America East playoffs in Stony Brook, New York.

Maine advances to a winner’s bracket game Friday afternoon against NJIT (25-22), which rallied for a 5-4 win over Albany (22-24).

The Black Bears struck quickly against Stony Brook, as McDonald led off the game with a double and scored on Ryan Turenne’s one-out single. McDaniel made it 2-0 with a home run to center field in the fifth. In the sixth, Bramanti hit a drive to right-center, stretching the lead to 3-0.

Sinacola (9-2) carried a shutout into the seventh before giving up a home run to Cole Durkan. He allowed five hits and one run. Maine reliever Matthew Pushard gave up a run in the eighth to cut the deficit to 3-2, but Plante answered with a home run in the ninth.


DIVISION III CHAMPIONSHIPS: Sophia Slovenski of Cape Neddick became USM’s first women’s outdoor national champion by winning the javelin, and USM freshman Ben Drummey of Biddeford finished third in the men’s pole vault in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Slovenski was in third place until the last of her six throws, when she set a school record with a distance of 158 feet, 2 inches – more than 5 feet better than her closest competitor. She joins Peyton Dostie, the 2016 indoor pentathlon champion, as the only national champions in program history.

Drummey was one of three vaulters who cleared the bar at 16-6 3/4 inches. Noah Zastrow of Wisconsin-Stout won with a vault of 16-8 3/4.

Also, Colby’s 400-meter women’s relay team qualified for the finals on Saturday by finishing third in its heat with a time of 47.59 seconds.

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