WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- One has to go back before the Great War for the last time the Dartmouth baseball team started a season with six straight wins. Today the Big Green played twice at Chain of Lakes Stadium in the RussMatt Invitational on their spring break trip to Florida, defeating LIU Brooklyn (1-12) to start the day, 11-4, then shutting out UAB (9-11), 4-0.
With the two victories, Dartmouth (6-0) remains the only undefeated team in Division I and is off to its best start in 98 years as the 1915 squad also won its first six contests. The school record is eight, set by the 1903 team.
The bats were out in full force against the Blackbirds of LIU as the Big Green pounded out 15 hits to produce their most runs of the young season. Senior Ennis Coble and junior Jeff Keller each had three knocks and two RBIs, and sophomore Matt MacDowell belted a two-run homer and stroked a two-run single for a career-high four RBIs.
On the mound, junior left-hander Mitch Horacek (2-0) battled through five innings to earn the win. He surrendered four runs on 10 hits, but did not issue a walk and struck out six. Junior Mike Dodakian replaced him to start the sixth and tossed four shutout innings, allowing just three hits with three punchouts, to earn his first save of the season.
MacDowell got the scoring started in the first with a two-out single with the bases loaded to plate Coble and freshman Trent Goodrich. The Blackbirds got both runs back in the top of the second, however, when Mike Garcia smashed a two-run blast to left, the first of the season by any LIU player.
Goodrich began the bottom of the third with a double into the left-field corner, and Coble’s single put runners on the corners with nobody out. After a foul pop, Keller put Dartmouth back on top with a two-run double into the gap in right-center before MacDowell belted his first collegiate home run over the fence in right for a 6-2 lead.
LIU got one back in the fourth on another long ball off the bat of Garcia, then made it 6-4 in the fifth when John Ziznewski hit a lead-off double and came around to score on a pair of infield outs.
When the Big Green put the first two batters on in the sixth, Blackbird starter Jordan Wilcox (0-3) was lifted in favor of Evan Zerff, who promptly gave up a bunt single to load the bases. Zerff nearly escaped the jam without any damage after turning a comebacker into a home-to-first double play, but Coble ripped a two-run triple into right-center.
Dartmouth put the game out of reach in the seventh when Keller hit his second double of the game and scored on a single up the middle by sophomore Nick Lombardi. Freshman Nick Ruppert drew a two-out walk before sophomore Matt Parisi found a hole on the right side for an RBI single. The right fielder threw to third in an attempt to gun down Ruppert, but the throw eluded the third baseman, allowing the final run to score.
In the second game, three Big Green pitchers scattered 12 hits in combining for the team’s second shutout of the season. Senior Kyle Hunter (1-0) had at least one batter reach base in each of his six innings, but induced a double play to erase one runner, while another was gunned down trying to steal home. In the sixth, the southpaw escaped a bases-loaded, two-out scenario by getting a routine fly to center to retire the side and the last hitter he faced. Hunter yielded seven hits, walked one and hit two batters in his six stanzas, fanning four.
Junior Lou Concato then took the mound and allowed two singles in each of the seventh and eighth innings, but nary a run. Sophomore closer Thomas Olson finished up the ninth, giving up just a one-out single while striking out one.
Dartmouth immediately took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first thanks to a fielding miscue to start the game. Parisi reached first on an error, took second on a Coble single then scurried home when Keller pulled a ball off the glove of a diving third baseman for an RBI single.
The big blow came in the third when Lombardi launched a two-out, three-run bomb to left to score junior Dustin Selzer who had walked and freshman Joe Purritano who had singled. The Big Green would not get another hitter past first base for the rest of the game.
James Naile (2-3) got stuck with the loss, allowing all four runs, three earned, on seven hits and a walk in just 3.2 innings.
Dartmouth will try to extend its streak to seven when it plays North Dakota State (8-8) on Monday at 11 a.m.