Offense Finds Stride as Baseball Sweeps Doubleheader from Merrimack, 5-4 and 11-7

Offense Finds Stride as Baseball Sweeps Doubleheader from Merrimack, 5-4 and 11-7

RINDGE, N.H. (March 31, 2018) – It was 16 runs on 21 hits across two games on Saturday afternoon, as the Franklin Pierce University baseball team finished off a three-game weekend sweep of visiting Merrimack at Dr. Arthur and Martha Pappas Field. In the first game of the doubleheader, five early runs held up, and senior right-hander Ryan Covelle (Medford, Mass.) stranded the tying run at third base in the ninth inning to finish off a 5-4 Ravens win. In the second game, Franklin Pierce opened up an 11-1 lead in support of junior right-hander Zach Hart (Wallingford, Conn.), who struck out eight over seven innings of work. Senior designated hitter Zack Tower (Auburn, Mass.) went 4-for-4 with a home run and a pair of doubles to drive in six runs in the second game.

With the wins in the Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division twinbill, Franklin Pierce improves to 16-8-1 (6-2 NE10, 3-1 NE Div.), while Merrimack falls to 8-12 (2-6 NE10, 0-4 NE Div.). In all, the Ravens swept a five-game season series from the Warriors, as Franklin Pierce also defeated Merrimack in a pair of non-conference games earlier in March.

In the first game, the two teams traded runs in the first inning. For Merrimack in the top half, sophomore third baseman Joey Porricelli shot the first pitch of the game down the right-field line for a lead-off double, and later scored on an RBI infield single by junior designated hitter Matthew Ronai. In the home half of the inning, sophomore shortstop James Boria (Massapequa, N.Y.) led off with a single to center for Franklin Pierce, and later scored on an RBI single into left-center by graduate student first baseman Mike Coggeshall (Shrewsbury, Mass.).

Franklin Pierce then plated four runs in the bottom of the third to jump out to a 4-1 lead. Junior left fielder Brad Roberto (San Diego, Calif.) started things with a one-out walk and moved to second on a single into right-center by Coggeshall. The Ravens did all their damage with two outs, including the key blow of the inning, courtesy of senior catcher Stephen Octave (New Windsor, N.Y.). Octave went the other way and lofted a towering fly ball deep down the right-field line. With the outfield shifted for Octave to pull, Merrimack senior right fielder Matt Nicholson never had a chance to run it down, and the ball dropped inside the line for a two-run triple.

Octave then scored as senior right fielder Adam Chase (Bridgewater, Mass.) followed with an RBI single back through the middle. Chase moved around to third when sophomore second baseman J.R. DiSarcina (Barnstable, Mass.) reached on an error and scored on an RBI double down the left-field line by Tower.

Merrimack cut the deficit to 5-2 with a run in the top of the sixth. Graduate student center fielder Tyler Lyne reached on a one-out infield single and moved around to third on back-to-back walks. Lyne would then score on a wild pitch.

The Warriors plated two more in the top of the ninth and ultimately left the tying run at third base. Senior left-hander Adam Goss (Waterford, Conn.) started the inning on the mound, surrendered a pinch-hit single to junior William Keegan, and was lifted in favor of Covelle. Keegan was replaced by junior Anthony Garbarino on the bases, and the latter immediately stole second. Covelle issued a walk to senior catcher Ricky Smith and then gave up an RBI single to left by senior second baseman Paul Buckley to make it 5-3.

After a strikeout for the first out, Covelle dropped the ball while toeing the rubber, for a balk, which moved the runners up to second and third. Porricelli then drove home Smith with a sacrifice fly, which also moved Buckley to third as the potential tying run. However, Buckley would go no further, as Covelle got Lyne to bounce out to shortstop to end the ballgame.

Junior left-hander Evan Glew (North Andover, Mass.) logged eight innings on 106 pitches (63 strikes) on the mound for Franklin Pierce. He allowed two runs on five hits, walked three, hit a batter, threw a wild pitch and struck out six on the way to the win (3-1). Covelle got the final three outs while allowing one run to notch his second save of the year.

On the other side, it was a five-inning, 95-pitch (60 strikes) outing for Merrimack senior left-hander Anthony Lupi (1-3). He surrendered five runs (four earned) on eight hits, walked one and struck out six while taking the loss.

In the second game, Merrimack opened the scoring with a run in the top of the second. Sophomore first baseman Thomas Joyce led off and clubbed a 3-1 pitch an estimated 385 feet into the power alley in right-center field, for a solo home run, his second of the season.

Franklin Pierce answered with three runs in the bottom of the second to jump to a 3-1 lead it would never relinquish. Coggeshall took a leadoff walk, before Octave singled into left field. Merrimack freshman left fielder Michael Jamele misplayed the base hit, which allowed Coggeshall to come all the way around to score, while Octave moved to second. After Chase reached on an error, a sacrifice bunt left runners at second and third with one out for Tower, who cashed them both in with a two-run double down the left-field line.

Three more runs in the bottom of the third opened the lead up to 6-1. Roberto led off with a single back up the middle and moved to second on a walk to senior third baseman John Friday (Southborough, Mass.). Two batters later, Octave plated Roberto with an RBI single into right-center. An errant throw in from Nicholson allowed Octave to take second on the play. Two batters later, DiSarcina cashed in both runners with a single back up the middle.

Three more in the fifth and two in the seventh stretched the Franklin Pierce lead as high as 11-1. In the fifth, Tower socked his second two-run double of the game, and sophomore center fielder Jack Duffy (Stratford, Conn.) chased home another run with a double down the right-field line. In the seventh, Chase was hit by a pitch and, two batters later, Tower launched a two-run homer the other way into the power alley in right-center field. The ball flew an estimated 390 feet and banged off the flag pole beyond the fence in right-center for Tower's fourth home run of the season.

Merrimack capitalized on a loss of control by the Franklin Pierce bullpen to plate six runs in the top of the eighth and create the 11-7 final. Garbarino and sophomore shortstop Nick Shumski both drove in runs with bases-loaded walks, while freshman Thomas Crowley had a pinch-hit, RBI single, Lyne provided a two-run single, and Ronai cranked an RBI double. Ultimately, junior right-hander Anthony Matarazzo (Medford, Mass.) came on to record the final out of the eighth and then retired the side in order in the ninth to collect his fourth save of the season.

Finishing things off made a winner out of Hart (3-1), who fired 107 pitches (71 strikes) over seven innings of work. He allowed one run on six hits, hit a batter and struck out eight.

For Merrimack, freshman right-hander Vin Zappulla (3-2) also threw 107 pitches (and also 71 strikes), but did so over just 4.2 innings on the mound. He was tagged for nine runs (seven earned) on eight hits, walked three, threw a wild pitch and struck out seven while taking the loss.

The Ravens return to the field on Tuesday, April 3, when they travel to Saint Anselm for an NE10 Northeast Division contest. First pitch is set for 3:30 p.m. at Sullivan Park in Manchester, N.H.

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).