MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. (March 13, 2018) – Five runs, all driven in by a pair of home runs, allowed the Franklin Pierce University baseball team to jump to a 5-3 lead on the road in the fourth inning on Tuesday afternoon. However, No. 6/13 nationally ranked Mount Olive responded with four runs of its own through the middle innings to take the lead for good, before adding some late insurance markers to deal the Ravens a 9-7 loss at Scarborough Field. Junior catcher Ben Connor clubbed a pair of home runs in the victory for Mount Olive, as the two teams combined for six long balls on the day.
With the loss, Franklin Pierce falls to 7-6-1, while Mount Olive improves to 15-6-1.
Mount Olive opened the scoring with a run in the bottom of the second inning. Connor cracked a two-out solo home run to center field, his second long ball of the season.
The Trojans added a pair of runs in the bottom of the third to make it 3-0. Senior designated hitter Drew Ellis and senior first baseman Justin Carroll did their part to make it the Day of the Dinger, as they drilled back-to-back solo home runs with two outs, the former to left-center and the latter to right-center. For Carroll, it was his seventh homer of the season, while Ellis notched his fourth.
Franklin Pierce got in on the action with a pair of home runs to do the bulk of its damage with a five-run top of the fourth. Senior second baseman John Friday (Southborough, Mass.) led off the inning with a single through the left side of the infield and senior catcher Stephen Octave (New Windsor, N.Y.) followed with his third home run of the season, a two-run shot to left field. With one out in the frame, sophomore designated hitter Dylan Jones (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) and sophomore shortstop James Boria (Massapequa, N.Y.) knocked back-to-back singles in front of sophomore third baseman J.R. DiSarcina (Barnstable, Mass.). DiSarcina provided the inning's keynote address, with a three-run bomb to left field, his first collegiate home run.
Mount Olive used single runs in the bottom of the fourth and fifth to tie the game at 5-5. In the fourth, Connor socked his second solo home run of the day, this one to center field as well. In the fifth, junior center fielder Nate Estes reached on a one-out infield single, stole second and later scored on a two-out RBI single to left by freshman right fielder Gunner Tolston.
Mount Olive took the lead for good with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth to jump out front, 7-5. Junior third baseman Junior Snow opened the inning with a double to right-center, greeting senior right-hander Ryan Covelle (Medford, Mass.), who took over to start the inning, rudely. Snow scored when Connor followed with his third RBI of the day with a single through the right side. Sophomore second baseman Justin Lee then reached on a fielder's choice, moved to third on a double by freshman shortstop Blake McLean and eventually scored on a wild pitch.
Franklin Pierce cut the deficit to 7-6 with an unearned run in the top of the eighth inning. Graduate student first baseman Mike Coggeshall (Shrewsbury, Mass.) led off with a single to left-center, but was erased at second as senior Zack Tower (Auburn, Mass.) reached on a fielder's choice. Tower went first-to-third as Boria reached on an error and then scored on an RBI single through the right side by DiSarcina.
The Trojans tacked on a pair of important insurance runs in the last of the eighth to push the lead out to 9-6. Snow singled to left to open the inning and moved to second when Connor walked. The latter was lifted for a pinch-runner, junior Brett Brittany, and both runs would later score on a two-run single through the right side by freshman Aaron Hedgepeth.
Franklin Pierce would get the tying run to the plate in the top of the ninth, but could only put together one run to create the 9-7 final. With two outs, Octave slugged a double the other way into the gap in right-center, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on an RBI double down the left-field line by Coggeshall. Tower came to the plate as the tying run, but struck out to end the game.
Sophomore right-hander Derek Duffy (Farmington, Conn.) started on the mound for Franklin Pierce and did not factor in the decision. Over five innings of work, he surrendered five runs on nine hits, walked two and piled up a career-best 11 strikeouts. Covelle (1-2) threw the sixth and suffered the loss out of the bullpen after allowing two runs on three hits and a wild pitch while striking out one.
Junior left-hander Matt Heard started for Mount Olive and did not factor in the decision either. Over 3.1 innings on the bump, he allowed two runs on two hits, walked two and struck out four. Junior right-hander Zack Burke (1-0) allowed just one baserunner and struck out one while working the sixth and seventh innings to notch the win out of the bullpen. Senior right-hander Zach Vennaro struck out three, but also surrendered two runs (one earned) on four hits, while throwing the final two innings to tally his fifth save of the season.
The Ravens are scheduled to return to the field, weather permitting, on Friday, March 16, when they travel to Merrimack for a non-conference contest. Game time is set for 3:30 p.m. at Trinity Stadium in Haverhill, Mass.
For more information on Franklin Pierce Athletics, please visit the official website of Franklin Pierce Athletics (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu). Also be sure to follow the Ravens through the Department of Athletics' official Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/FranklinPierceRavens), its YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/franklinpiercesports) and its Twitter feed (http://twitter.com/FPUathletics). Fans wishing to purchase Franklin Pierce baseball apparel can do so at the Department of Athletics' online store (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu/store).