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Timely Hitting, Strong Pitching Lead Big Green to 4-2 Victory

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Jeff Keller came up big for the Big Green offense against Holy Cross.     By Mark Washburn

HANOVER, N.H. — In the seventh inning, sophomore Jeff Keller singled home classmate Dustin Selzer, who had tied the game with a triple, then scored an insurance run as Dartmouth rallied for a 4-2 victory over visiting Holy Cross on Wednesday afternoon at Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park. Keller recorded half of the Big Green’s hits, going 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs, to lead Dartmouth (9-14) in the crisp game that took just 2:04 to play.

Patrick Puentes homered and scored both Crusader runs, but Holy Cross (18-15) wasted the fine pitching of rookie right-hander Donny Murray, who surrendered just two hits and one run without a walk in his six-inning start.

Clinging to a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the seventh, the Crusaders summoned Collin Manning from the bullpen. Manning promptly walked freshman Matt Parisi on five pitches, then junior Ennis Coble laid down a sacrifice bunt to put the tying run in scoring position. It turned out not to matter as Selzer boomed a deep drive to center field for an RBI triple, tying the game at two.

Holy Cross whisked away Manning (1-1) in favor of relief ace John Colella to face Keller, who was already 2-for-2 at that point. Keller worked the count full before taking a slider down and away and poking it into center field for the clutch single and a 3-2 lead. After freshman Matt Robinson lined a single to right to send Keller to third, rookie Thomas Roulis hit a slow roller to second that the Crusader defense had no chance to turn an inning-ending double play, allowing Keller to score the fourth run.

Sophomore Mike Dodakian pitched a perfect eighth for the Big Green, and freshman Thomas Olson needed just eight pitches to get three outs in the ninth for his third save of the season. Earning the victory was senior Max Langford (1-1), who hurled 1.1 scoreless innings in relief of sophomore right-hander Louis Concato. Making his third start of the season, Concato surrendered both runs on five hits and one walk. Oddly enough, none of the four Big Green pitchers recorded a single strikeout on the afternoon.

The only batter to reach base against Murray was Keller, who smacked his second home run of the season to the opposite field in right just above the top of the fence and into the protective net for a 1-0 lead in the second inning. In the fifth frame, Keller hit a lead-off single, but after taking second on a wild pitch, Murray picked him off when he got too anxious to steal third.

Meanwhile, Concato cruised through the first three innings, facing one over the minimum. In the fourth, Puentes singled with one down and took third on a Jordan Enos double to left. Steven Tkowski tied the game with a sacrifice fly to right. Puentes then gave the Crusaders a 2-1 lead in the sixth by launching his first long ball of the year.

Puentes and Brandon Cipolla each had two of the seven hits for Holy Cross.

With the six-game homestand in the books, Dartmouth will travel to Providence, R.I., this weekend for a key four-game Ivy League series at Brown (5-21, 3-5 Ivy), starting on Saturday at noon. The Big Green hold a one-game lead in the Rolfe Division over the Bears entering the weekend. Holy Cross, which today played its first of 13 straight games on the road, will play a four-game Patriot League series at Navy with noon doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday.

Notes: Dartmouth has won all 17 non-conference games on its home field since it was renovated before the 2009 season … overall the Big Green are 48-6 (.889) at Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park … Keller is batting .560 (14-of-25) over the last seven games … over his last seven appearances, Langford has an 0.84 ERA in 10.2 innings with a win, a save and 12 strikeouts.