MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (February 22, 2019) – Graduate student right-hander Ryan Covelle (Medford, Mass.) and senior right-hander Anthony Matarazzo (Medford, Mass.) each turned in solid starts on Friday, as the Franklin Pierce University baseball team won a pair of non-conference games on the second day of its four-day trip to The Ripken Experience. Against Bridgeport, Covelle turned in seven innings of one-run ball as the Ravens rolled to a 13-1 victory. Later, against No. 19 nationally ranked St. Thomas Aquinas, Matarazzo struck out eight over seven shutout, four-hit innings in a 2-0 Franklin Pierce win.
With the wins, Franklin Pierce opens the season at 3-0 for the second straight season. Both Bridgeport and St. Thomas Aquinas opened their 2019 seasons with losses.
Franklin Pierce 13, Bridgeport 1
In the first game of the day, the Ravens would fall behind early, as Bridgeport plated a run in the bottom of the first inning. With one out, freshman second baseman Ryan Donnelly walked, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI triple to right-center by junior catcher Alex Rauso. It would be the only run of the day for the Purple Knights, as Franklin Pierce ran off the next 13 runs to ring up the dozen-run victory.
Franklin Pierce took the lead for good with a trio of runs in the top of the second inning. With one out, junior right fielder John Mead (Washington Township, N.J.) walked, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI single to center by junior shortstop James Boria (Massapequa, N.Y.). Boria wound up on second on the play on the throw, moved to third on an infield single by junior catcher Dylan Jones (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) and scored when freshman second baseman Joel Lara (Boston, Mass.) bounced into a fielder's choice. Jones later scored on a first-and-third double steal play to round out the inning's scoring.
Two unearned runs in the third and another in the fifth pushed the lead out to 6-1. In the third, senior left fielder Brad Roberto (San Diego, Calif.) reached on an error and later scored on a passed ball, while junior first baseman Jonel Ozuna (New York, N.Y.) walked and eventually scored on a double play. In the fifth, Roberto doubled into left-center with one out and later scored on a passed ball.
The Ravens tacked on three in the eighth and four in the ninth to blow the game open and create the 13-1 final. Mead and Boria had RBI singles in the eighth, while Boria later scored on a wild pitch. In the ninth, Jones and senior designated hitter Ural Forbes (Freeport, Bahamas) each provided two-run doubles.
Meanwhile, Covelle (1-0) was busy cruising through seven innings of one-run ball on the mound. He allowed five hits, walked one, threw a wild pitch and struck out five on the way to the win.
For Bridgeport, sophomore right-hander Anthony Martino (0-1) started and suffered the loss after logging the first five innings. He was charged with six runs (three earned) on four hits, walked three, threw two wild pitches and struck out five.
Franklin Pierce 2, St. Thomas Aquinas 0
The second game of the day was much quieter at the plate and played out as a pitcher's duel. For Franklin Pierce, Matarazzo (1-0) made his return to the starting rotation after pitching out of the bullpen for much of last season and missing nearly all of 2017 due to injury. The right-hander looked the part of his 2016 All-America form, as he powered through seven shutout innings while allowing only one runner as far as second base. Matarazzo allowed just four hits, walked one and struck out eight to notch the victory.
Senior right-hander Chris Cepeda (0-1) took the ball on the other side of the ledger and was nearly as effective, though he would be tripped up in the sixth frame. Over his own seven innings of work, he allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits, hit one batter and struck out nine, but was stuck with the loss, as his offense could not solve Matarazzo.
The game's only scoring was a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth for the Ravens. Lara led off with a single and moved to second as graduate student center fielder Harrison Smoske (Burlington, Mass.) dropped down a sacrifice bunt and then reached on an error by Cepeda anyway. A single by Roberto loaded the bases, before Ozuna cashed in Lara with an RBI infield single. Forbes, who caught the second game, followed with a sacrifice fly to plate Smoske.
Senior right-hander Shane Kittila (Warwick, R.I.) would take over for Matarazzo to start the eighth inning and completed the shutout to notch his first save in a Franklin Pierce uniform. Over the final two innings, Kittila allowed one hit, walked one and struck out three.
The Ravens continue their season-opening, five-game trip to Myrtle Beach on Saturday, when they meet NYIT in a non-conference contest. First pitch is set for 5 p.m. at The Ripken Experience.
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).