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Golden Bears Top Nichols 8-3 for Sixth Straight Win

Kevin Hummer fanned a career-high 9 batters over 6 shutout innings as Western New England defeated Nichols 8-3 on Friday. (Photo by Jim Balderston)
Kevin Hummer fanned a career-high 9 batters over 6 shutout innings as Western New England defeated Nichols 8-3 on Friday. (Photo by Jim Balderston)

Hummer strikes out career-high 9 batters over six shutout innings

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (April 5, 2019) – The Western New England University baseball team extended its winning streak to six games with an 8-3 victory over Nichols College on Friday afternoon in Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) action at Trelease Park.

Top Performers
Making his fourth start of the season, sophomore righthander Kevin Hummer (Shrewsbury, Mass.) was impressive on the mound, striking out a career-high nine batters and allowing just three hits over six shutout innings to improve to 2-0. Hummer had a no-hitter through four innings before giving up a leadoff single in the fifth.

Junior second baseman Kevin Johnson (Waterford, Conn.) posted a 2-for-4 effort at the plate with three RBI, while senior DH Joe Cassella (Wallingford, Conn.) went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles.

Senior catcher Brian Valeriano (Stratford, Conn.) and senior third baseman Aaron Rios (Stratford, Conn.) added two hits each for the Golden Bears.

Nichols freshman infielder Tyler Heenan (Milford, Conn.) reached base four times, as he went 1-for-2 with three walks, a double and three RBI.

Game Review
Western New England opened the scoring in the bottom of the second inning, as Rios singled to center field with two outs and junior Zac Nussbaum (Bridgewater, Mass.) drove him in with a double to right.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Golden Bears put four more runs on the board to extend their lead to 5-0. Western New England recorded four consecutive singles to start the frame, including RBI hits by senior Ben LaCroix (Branford, Conn.) and Rios. Nussbaum then reached on an error that allowed LaCroix to score from second base, and Johnson added an RBI single through the right side two batters later.

After Loparco increased Western New England's advantage to 6-0 with a two-out, RBI double in the bottom of the sixth, the Bison broke through for three runs in the top of the seventh. Junior first baseman Kyle Bouchard (Fall River, Mass.) led off with a walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and took third on a Western New England error, before coming in to score on an RBI single by sophomore Nathaniel Cormier (Sandisfield, Mass.). Heenan came up two batters later with the bases loaded and cut Nichols' deficit to three (6-3) with a two-run double down the left field line. Western New England brought in junior righthander Conor Scully (Auburn, Mass.) with two runners still in scoring position, and he got the Golden Bears out of the inning with a strikeout and a groundout.

The home team plated a pair of insurance runs in the bottom half of the seventh, as Johnson came through with a two-out, two-run single to right field.

Scully came back out for the top of the eighth and struck out two batters while stranding one runner on base, but Nichols was able to load the bases with one out in the ninth off of senior Andrew Foley (Wilbraham, Mass.).

Senior closer Sean Halligan (North Branford, Conn.) entered the game with one out and the potential tying run on deck, but he ended the Bison's comeback hopes as he induced a game-ending 6-4-3 double play to earn his fifth save of the season.

Notes
• The win improves Western New England to 32-14 against Nichols all-time, including 11-1 during head coach Dan Gomez's tenure.
• The Golden Bears have scored 102 runs during their current six-game winning streak (17 runs per game).

Up Next
Both teams will be right back in action tomorrow, as Western New England (13-6, 5-0 CCC) travels to Newport, R.I. to take on Salve Regina, and Nichols (11-10, 1-4 CCC) heads back on the road to face Curry.