RINDGE, N.H. (March 28, 2018) – The Franklin Pierce University baseball team committed four errors through just the first four innings of play on Wednesday afternoon, and it would prove to be the team's undoing. Southern New Hampshire capitalized on the mistakes to plate seven runs over three innings at the plate, to build a 7-0 lead the Penmen would never relinquish. Franklin Pierce closed the gap to 7-3, but a double play short-circuited a potential fifth-inning rally, and SNHU went on to a 9-3 win in the Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division opener for both teams at Dr. Arthur and Martha Pappas Field.
With the loss, Franklin Pierce falls to 13-8-1 (3-2 NE10, 0-1 NE Div.), while Southern New Hampshire improves to 11-9 (1-2 NE10, 1-0 NE Div.).
Southern New Hampshire opened with a run in a hurry in the top of the first inning to take the lead for good. Sophomore third baseman Tom Blandini dumped a single into left-center leading off, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on an RBI single lashed through the left side of the infield by senior first baseman Ryan Sullivan.
The Penmen picked up two more in the top of the second inning to push the lead to 3-0. Freshman designated hitter Sam Henrie led off with a single to center field and moved around to third as senior shortstop Kyle Pangallo followed and plugged a double into the gap in left-center field. After a walk to sophomore second baseman Joshua Goldstein loaded the bases, Henrie scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Blandini. The flyout carried Franklin Pierce left fielder Brad Roberto (San Diego, Calif.) towards the line and, after making the catch, he turned and heaved the ball towards the plate. His throw never had a chance to beat Henrie to the plate, and also airmailed the cutoff man, which allowed the two trailing baserunners to advance as well.
Pangallo broke for the plate on contact during the next at-bat, as graduate student center fielder Thomas Buonopane bounced a ball to third. Despite being sent by his coach on contact, Pangallo was easily thrown out at the plate by senior third baseman John Friday (Southborough, Mass.) for the second out. Sullivan followed with a grounder back over the mound, which should have ended the inning. The ball and sophomore second baseman J.R. DiSarcina (Barnstable, Mass.) both arrived near second base well ahead of Buonopane, but DiSarcina could not field cleanly, which left everybody safe and allowed Goldstein to score.
Four more runs -- two of them unearned -- in the top of the fourth ballooned the SNHU lead out to 7-0. Senior left fielder Caleb Potter led off, worked an eight-pitch walk and scored when freshman catcher Dakota Mulcay followed and launched a home run an estimated 400 feet, deep into the power alley in right-center field. It was Mulcay's second home run of the season.
Henri walked after the homer, which spelled the end of the day for the Franklin Pierce starting pitcher, junior right-hander Anthony Matarazzo (Medford, Mass.), and then the defense continued to fall apart with graduate student right-hander Sam Steeves (Dorchester, Mass.) on the mound. Steeves got the first batter he faced, Pangallo, to hit a possible double-play ball to third base. Friday fielded cleanly and fired to second. The throw was on the base, at DiSarcina's knees, but the second baseman could not handle the throw, earning his second error of the day and again leaving everybody safe. A walk to Goldstein followed, which loaded the bases with still nobody out, for the top of the order.
Steeves got the next two batters and then got a bouncer on the left side which should have ended the inning without further damage. However the ball bounced right between Friday's legs at third base for the second error of the inning, which allowed both Henrie and Pangallo to score. Franklin Pierce's fourth error of the day would come in the top of the fourth, again by DiSarcina, which led to him being lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the fourth.
Franklin Pierce picked up single runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings to cut the gap to 7-3. In the third, senior right fielder Adam Chase (Bridgewater, Mass.) tripled into the alley in left-center and scored on a double shot the other way and down the right-field line by Friday. In the fourth, Octave led off and smoked a line drive an estimated 370 feet to straightaway left for his team-leading fifth home run of the season.
The Ravens' best chance to get back into the game came in the bottom of the fifth. Sophomore center fielder Jack Duffy (Stratford, Conn.) led off and drove a triple deep into the gap in left-center field, just out of the reach of a diving Buonopane. Duffy scored when Roberto followed with an RBI single back up the middle. Two batters later, Friday dumped a single into right-center, which brought the Franklin Pierce cleanup hitter to the plate with two runners on and just one out. Graduate student first baseman Mike Coggeshall (Shrewsbury, Mass.) worked a 2-2 count, but then bounced the fifth pitch on the right side and grounded into an inning-ending, 3-6-1 double play.
Franklin Pierce would not get another runner into scoring position for the remainder of the game after the Coggeshall double play put an end to the potential fifth-inning rally.
SNHU tacked on single runs in the sixth and seventh to create the 9-3 final. In the sixth, junior right fielder John Stanton drilled a home run of an estimated 360 feet to straightaway left, his third of the campaign. In the seventh, Pangallo led off with a single and later scored when Stanton was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Matarazzo (2-1) started on the mound for Franklin Pierce, but was chased after just two-plus innings and 52 pitches (30 strikes). He was ultimately charged with six runs (four earned) on six hits, walked three, struck out two and took the loss.
Meanwhile, senior right-hander Mitchell Powers (2-2) used 125 pitches (87 strikes) to get through seven innings on the hill for SNHU. He allowed three runs on nine hits, walked one and struck out six on the way to the win.
The Ravens return to the field on Friday, March 30, when they remain home to host Merrimack in an NE10 Northeast Division contest. First pitch is set for 3:30 p.m. at Pappas Field.
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).