Cookingham Fuels Offense in Opener as Golden Bears Split with UNE

Jamie Cookingham drove in six of Western New England's eight runs in the Golden Bears' game one victory over UNE on Friday. (Photo by Chris Marion)
Jamie Cookingham drove in six of Western New England's eight runs in the Golden Bears' game one victory over UNE on Friday. (Photo by Chris Marion)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (April 19, 2019) – Freshman catcher Jamie Cookingham (Warner, N.H.) homered twice and drove in six runs in Western New England's game one victory as the Golden Bears split a Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) doubleheader with the University of New England on Friday afternoon.

Western New England 8, UNE 3

Top Performers
Cookingham had a career day in the opener, going 3-for-3 at the plate with two home runs, a double and six RBI. Sophomore Allie Buzzeo (Stamford, Conn.) went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, while classmate Emily Cooney (Berlin, Conn.) posted a 1-for-3 effort with a walk, one RBI and two runs.

Junior Aimee Kistner (Taunton, Mass.) picked up the win (11-4) in the circle after striking out eight batters and surrendering two earned runs over a complete game performance.

UNE freshman Taylor Depot (Auburn, Maine) recorded two hits for the Nor'easters, while seniors Andrea Gosper (Wyoming, R.I.) and Hannah Baldyga (Goffstown, N.H.) drove in one run each.

Game Review
After Kistner stranded a pair of Nor'easters on base in the top of the first, Cookingham gave the Golden Bears the lead in the bottom half of the inning with a two-run shot over the left center field fence.

Western New England increased its advantage to 3-0 with the help of a UNE throwing error in the bottom of the second, before the Nor'easters broke through in the top of the third on a Golden Bear error.

Another two-run homer off the bat of Cookingham in the bottom of the third made it 5-1 in favor of the Golden Bears, but UNE again battled back with a pair of runs in the top of the fourth to cut it to 5-3, as Gosper hit a leadoff homer and Baldyga added an RBI single.

Western New England continued to roll offensively in the bottom of the fourth with three runs on four hits. Junior Carlie Moss (Delmar, N.Y.) led off with an infield single, and Buzzeo followed with a single to right field. Two batters later, Cooney delivered an RBI single down the left field line, before Cookingham capped her impressive day with a two-run double that extended the Golden Bears' lead to 8-3, which stood as the final margin.

UNE 2, Western New England 1

Top Performers
Western New England's offense was held in check in game two, with Cookingham, freshman Dina DiBlasio (Norwalk, Conn.) and junior Paige Uliase (Meriden, Conn.) recording the Golden Bears' only three hits.

Uliase was also strong in the circle, striking out six and allowing two earned runs with six strikeouts over seven innings.

Senior Avery Alberghini (Moretown, Vt.) paced the Nor'easters offensively with a 3-for-3 effort and one run scored, while senior pitcher Melissa Sprague (Londonderry, N.H.) tallied eight strikeouts and gave up one earned run on two hits over six innings.

Game Review
After two scoreless frames, UNE claimed a 2-0 advantage in the top of the third. Senior Alexis Kapsambelis (Merrimack, N.H.) led off with a single and stole second before coming in to score on a sacrifice by Depot. Sophomore Meg Harvey (Westmoreland, N.H.) followed with an RBI single that plated Alberghini, who had reached on a bunt single earlier in the inning.  

The Golden Bears, who went down in order in the first two innings, broke up Sprague's no-hit bid on Cookingham's double to left center in the bottom of the fourth.

Western New England was finally able to string some hits together in the bottom of the seventh, but the Golden Bears fell just short. Cookingham led off with a walk, and DiBlasio followed with a single, ending Sprague's outing. Senior Sydnee Bessler (Everett, Mass.), who pitched the opener for the Nor'easters, came on in relief and gave up an RBI single to Uliase as the Golden Bears cut their deficit in half. Bessler struck out the next batter she faced, and after a sacrifice advanced both baserunners into scoring position, junior Sydney Pounds (Milford, Mass.) flew out to right field to end the contest.

Up Next
Both teams will be back in action on Tuesday, as Western New England (18-12, 8-6 CCC) visits crosstown rival Springfield College, and UNE (21-12, 10-4 CCC) travels to Bowdoin.