RINDGE, N.H. (March 30, 2018) – The Franklin Pierce University baseball team erased deficits of 3-0 and 4-3 on Friday afternoon, to pull out a 5-4 victory in 10 innings over visiting Merrimack at Dr. Arthur and Martha Pappas Field. Senior catcher Stephen Octave (New Windsor, N.Y.) went 3-for-3 with a two-run home run and also hit a single which tied the game in the bottom of the eighth. Senior third baseman John Friday (Southborough, Mass.) provided a sacrifice fly to score junior left fielder Brad Roberto (San Diego, Calif.) with the game-winning run in the bottom of the 10th of the Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division contest.
With the win, Franklin Pierce improves to 14-8-1 (4-2 NE10, 1-1 NE Div.), while Merrimack falls to 8-10 (2-4 NE10, 0-2 NE Div.). The two teams will meet on Saturday for a doubleheader to wrap up the three-game weekend series. First pitch is set for noon at Pappas Field.
Trailing 3-0 since the top of the third inning, the Franklin Pierce offense found its groove in the bottom of the sixth with a trio of runs on a pair of long balls to tie the game. With one out and the bases empty, Friday took an 0-1 pitch the other way, with the wind, and slipped it over the fence for a solo home run of an estimated 350 feet to straightaway right field. Graduate student first baseman Mike Coggeshall (Shrewsbury, Mass.) was next and went the other way as well, to poke a double down the left-field line. Octave followed and launched the second pitch of his at-bat into the parking lot behind the left field fence for a two-run home run of an estimated 375 feet. Friday's home run was his third of the season, while Octave's was his team-leading sixth of the campaign.
Merrimack reclaimed the lead with a run in the top of the eighth inning. Graduate student center fielder Tyler Lyne led off, went the other way and poked a double down the right-field line. He would score two batters later, when senior right fielder Matt Nicholson went back up the middle for an RBI single. The Warriors would later leave the bases loaded in the inning, when graduate student second baseman Paul Buckley lined out to center field.
The stranded runners proved costly, as Franklin Pierce answered immediately to tie the game at 4-4 with a run in the home half of the eighth. With one out, Friday lined a ball into left-center field, which turned into a double when Lyne took a poor route to try to cut the ball off and it wound up escaping all the way to the fence. Friday then moved to third on a groundout, which brought Octave back to the plate with two away. Octave hit a pop up into shallow right-center field on a 1-2 pitch. With Lyne and Nicholson playing deep against Octave's power, the ball wound up falling into no-man's land between the center fielder, right fielder and second baseman for an RBI single.
Each team would get a runner into scoring position with one out in the ninth inning, but neither could cash in. Junior right-hander Anthony Matarazzo (Medford, Mass.) took over with one out in the ninth and struck out Merrimack's three- and four-hole hitters, junior designated hitter Matthew Ronai and Nicholson, to strand a runner at second. Matarazzo then worked around a two-out infield single to post a scoreless top of the 10th inning.
The work of Matarazzo allowed the Ravens to pick up the win with an unearned run in the last of the 10th. Roberto led off and socked a 1-0 pitch to the warning track in right-center for a double. With Friday at the plate, Merrimack senior catcher Ricky Smith whiffed while attempting to catch a 1-0 fastball, which went for a passed ball and advanced Roberto to third. The table now set, Friday did not miss the opportunity, as he lifted the fourth pitch of the at-bat to medium-depth right field. Nicholson lined up the catch and made a strong throw to the plate, but Roberto narrowly beat out a bang-bang play to tally the winning run and send the Ravens spilling out of the dugout to mob Friday in celebration.
Earlier in the day, Merrimack plated one run in the first and two in the third to open up a 3-0 lead. In the first, sophomore third baseman Joey Porricelli reached on an infield single to open the game and later scored on an RBI infield single by Ronai. In the third, sophomore shortstop Nick Shumski singled and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Ronai, while Porricelli doubled and scored on a two-out RBI double by Nicholson.
Senior right-hander John Amendola (Wallingford, Conn.) started on the mound and threw 102 pitches (70 strikes) over seven innings for the ravens. He allowed three runs on seven hits, did not issue a walk and struck out eight without factoring in the decision. Matarazzo (3-1) threw scoreless ball over the final 1.2 innings, allowed one hit and struck out three to pick up the win out of the bullpen.
For Merrimack, senior right-hander Joe Westerman took the ball, threw six innings and would not factor in the decision either. He threw just 68 pitches (49 strikes) and allowed three runs on eight hits, did not issue a walk and struck out five. Sophomore right-hander Stephen Fleury (0-2) was the hard-luck loser after allowing the unearned run, though he did surrender two hits, to go with two strikeouts, over 1.1 innings of work.
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).