MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (February 21, 2019) – The Franklin Pierce University baseball team set out to make a statement on Opening Day in the Palmetto State on Thursday evening. Six Felician errors helped the cause, but putting those aside, it was still all Ravens all the time at The Ripken Experience, as the Franklin Pierce University baseball team rolled to a 15-1 non-conference win in the team's season opener. Senior right-hander Zach Hart (Wallingford, Conn.) rang up 11 strikeouts over 6.2 innings of one-run ball for the Ravens, while senior left fielder Brad Roberto (San Diego, Calif.) and junior right fielder John Mead (Washington Township, N.J.) provided home runs in the romp.
With the win, Franklin Pierce opens its season with a win over Felician for the second straight season. With the loss, Felician falls to 0-4.
The Ravens got all the offense they would need on Thursday with a pair of runs in the top of the second. Mead led off the inning and went deep in his first Franklin Pierce at-bat, with a solo home run to left-center field to open the scoring. Junior shortstop James Boria (Massapequa, N.Y.) – who had a 4-for-5 day and scored three times – followed with a double to the gap in right-center, moved to third on a balk and later scored on a sacrifice fly to left by freshman second baseman Joel Lara (Boston, Mass.).
Franklin Pierce tacked on five more runs in the top of the sixth to break things wide open and push the lead to 7-0. Graduate student center fielder Harrison Smoske (Burlington, Mass.) and Mead provided the only RBIs of the inning with a bunt single and an RBI groundout, respectively. The Ravens had just two hits in the frame, as three errors, two wild pitches and a passed ball helped make a mess of the inning on the Felician side of things.
From there, it was all over but the shouting, though the Ravens still had eight more runs in the tank. They plated three in the seventh, including a two-run single by Roberto, who drove in five runs on the day. They later added five more in the ninth to make it a complete laugher, as Roberto cranked a three-run home run to right field and junior third baseman Justin Perez (Willimantic, Conn.) clubbed a two-run double down the left-field line. The double capped a 2-for-3 day for Perez, which featured three walks, two runs scored and two RBIs.
Meanwhile, Felician's only run of the game came in the bottom of the seventh inning, as Hart wound down his first start of the season. Junior left fielder Mike Martinez led off with a single to right, moved to second two batters later on a single to center by sophomore designated hitter Anthony Condito and scored on an RBI single back up the middle by senior right fielder Jason Aponte.
Hart (1-0) was strong in his initial outing of the year, which saw him throw 103 pitches (62 strikes) to get through 6.2 innings. He allowed just the one run on seven hits, walked two and posted a new career high with 11 strikeouts.
On the other side of the ledger, sophomore right-hander Michael Gutierrez (0-1) took the loss after it took him 96 pitches (55 strikes) to get through five innings of work. He surrendered two runs on four hits, walked four and recorded 10 strikeouts of his own. Six Felician relievers would be tagged with 13 runs (12 earned) on seven hits and an alarming 10 walks over the final four innings.
The Ravens continue their season-opening, five-game trip to Myrtle Beach with a pair of non-conference tilts on Friday. Franklin Pierce will square off with Bridgeport at 3 p.m. and meet St. Thomas Aquinas at 6 p.m.
For more information on Franklin Pierce Athletics, please visit the official website of Franklin Pierce Athletics (https://www.fpuravens.com). 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 (https://www.fpuravens.com/store).