WALTHAM, Mass. (April 12, 2019) – Trailing 10-2 after eight, Bentley unexpectedly got the winning run into scoring position on a chilly, grey afternoon at DeFelice Field on Friday afternoon. In the end though, it was the Franklin Pierce University baseball team which managed to hang on for a nail-biting, 10-9 victory in the Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division contest. Senior left fielder Brad Roberto (San Diego, Calif.) went 3-for-5 with a triple and a pair of doubles, while junior first baseman Jonel Ozuna (New York, N.Y.) finished 3-for-5 with a double. Both drove in three runs to lead the Ravens' attack.
With the win, Franklin Pierce improves to 16-13 (9-4 NE10, 5-2 NE Div.), while Bentley falls to 9-18 (6-7 NE10, 3-4 NE Div.). The two teams will meet again on Saturday at Bentley for a doubleheader to round out the three-game series. First pitch is set for noon at DeFelice Field.
With Franklin Pierce leading 10-2 after eight, the two teams embarked on a ninth inning which was reminiscent of a game they played in the back end of a doubleheader on April 14, 2012 at Pappas Field (game story || box score), when Bentley plated 14 runs in the ninth inning to pull out a 17-8 victory at Franklin Pierce. This time though, the Ravens were finally able to wrangle the ninth inning under control before the lead entirely evaporated.
Things were sloppy right out of the gate in the ninth. Junior right-hander Ben Mallet (Athol, Mass.) and sophomore right-hander Brendan Aldridge (Pawtucket, R.I.) combined to walk the first four batters of the inning, with few pitches even close to the strike zone. In all, the first six Falcons of the inning would reach base – including five via walks – before freshman right-hander Danny Gracia (Wilmington, Mass.) recorded the first out. Junior center fielder Max Troiani, junior designated hitter Ryan Berardino, senior first baseman Brandon Grover and senior right fielder Gino Fordiani all had run-scoring singles in the frame, as Bentley whittled the deficit from 10-2, all the way down to a single run.
The game came to a head with two outs, the tying run at second, the potential winning run at second and sophomore catcher Charlie Auditore at the plate to face Gracia. The count ran full, and Auditore fouled off a pair of pitches as the crescendo built to the game's final pitch. Finally, on the eighth pitch of the at-bat, Gracia got Auditore to foul tip the ball into the catcher's mitt to end things and allow the Ravens to escape with a victory.
The game-ending strikeout allowed Franklin Pierce to preserve a win (4-3) for graduate student right-hander Ryan Covelle (Medford, Mass.), who threw 73 pitches (51 strikes) over the first six innings before departing with a big lead. He allowed two runs on six hits, walked one and struck out three.
The final out also prevented Bentley from getting its starter, sophomore right-hander Evan Christopulos (2-1), off the hook. He used 60 pitches (34 strikes) to get through four innings, was charged with five runs (three earned) on five hits, walked two and did not record a strikeout.
Earlier in the day, Franklin Pierce jumped out front with three in the second and two in the fourth. In the second, sophomore third baseman Josh Tower (Auburn, Mass.), senior second baseman Carmine Giordano (New Rochelle, N.Y.) and junior designated hitter Dylan Jones (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) loaded the bases for Roberto. Roberto ran the count full with two outs, then got around on a 3-2 pitch with the runners in motion and yanked a three-run triple down the right-field line. In the fourth, Giordano singled and later scored on an error, while freshman center fielder Joel Lara (Boston, Mass.) scored another run on a first-and-third, double-steal play.
The Ravens appeared to put the game out of reach with a four-spot in the top of the sixth to make it 9-0. Giordano and Jones set the table for Lara, who drove in Giordano with an RBI single. Jones would eventually score on a wild pitch, while Ozuna capped the inning with a two-run double into the gap in left-center.
Bentley got started on the comeback trail with a pair of runs off of Covelle in the home half of the sixth. Graduate student second baseman Mike Samko led off with a single and motored all the way around to score on a double over the head of Roberto in left by Berardino. Berardino would move to third on a groundout and later scored on a wild pitch.
Though the runs seemed merely to be a matter of arithmetic at the time, it ultimately set the stage for the highly-dramatic ninth inning. The drama was all for naught for Bentley though, as the Ravens held on for the one-run win.
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).