HAVERHILL, Mass. (April 28, 2019) – In an at-times hotly-contested Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division affair, the Franklin Pierce University baseball team pulled out a much-needed win in the finale of a three-game weekend series against Merrimack on Sunday afternoon at Trinity Stadium. After the team dropped the first two games of the series on Saturday, senior left fielder Brad Roberto (San Diego, Calif.) made sure the Ravens would not go home empty-handed, as he cranked a two-run double in the top of the 14th to help secure a 4-2, extra-inning victory. Sophomore right-hander Brendan Aldridge (Pawtucket, R.I.) was stellar out of the bullpen, as he fired 5.1 innings of scoreless relief to extend the game far enough for Roberto's heroics.
With the win, Franklin Pierce improves to 21-18 (14-9 NE10, 10-7 NE Div.) and sits in fourth in the Northeast Division heading into the final week of the season, while first-place Merrimack falls to 25-14 (18-5 NE10, 14-3 NE Div.).
After the teams traded a run apiece in the first inning, the game went without further scoring until the top of the eighth, when Franklin Pierce edged out front, 2-1. Senior designated hitter Ural Forbes (Freeport, Bahamas) caught everybody off-guard and dropped down a bunt single leading off. He moved to second on a passed ball, went to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a passed ball.
Merrimack would not go quietly, and answered with a run in the last of the ninth to extend the game. With one out, junior third baseman Joey Porricelli singled up the middle, stole second, moved to third on a soft ground ball which left the shortstop without a play, and scored on an RBI groundout to second by junior first baseman Thomas Joyce.
The game would then feature another four scoreless innings, as Aldridge dueled with Merrimack sophomore right-hander Jake Thibault, before the Ravens took the lead for good in the top of the 14th. Junior catcher Dylan Jones (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) narrowly legged out an infield single leading off and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt attempt by senior second baseman Carmine Giordano (New Rochelle, N.Y.), which left both players safe, as Merrimack elected to go to second base, but failed to retire Jones.
Jones was then forced out at third as freshman center fielder Joel Lara (Boston, Mass.) dropped down an unsuccessful sacrifice attempt, before a groundout moved the runners to second and third with two outs, setting up the pivotal at-bat of the game. Roberto was able to cash in both Giordano and Lara, as he went the other way and drove a two-run double into the gap in left-center field.
Already 4.1 innings deep into his relief outing, Aldridge (1-0) went back out and worked around a one-out infield single to finish things out. In all, the 6-foot-3 right-hander threw 5.1 innings of scoreless ball, allowed two hits, hit a batter and struck out two to pick up his first collegiate win. Aldridge did so in relief of senior right-hander Zach Hart (Wallingford, Conn.), who threw 114 pitches (81 strikes) over the first seven innings, but was long gone by the time the game was decided. Hart allowed one run on six hits, walked one, hit a batter and struck out four.
Merrimack used just two pitchers to get through the 14 innings on its side of the ledger. Senior right-hander Riley Sorenson made the start, threw 117 pitches (71 strikes) over the first seven innings and, like Hart, was long departed by the time anything was decided. He allowed one run on eight hits, walked two, hit a batter and struck out four. Thibault (2-3) took over from there and went the final seven innings on 80 pitches (53 strikes). He surrendered three runs (two earned) on four hits, walked one and struck out four as well.
The Ravens return to the field on Tuesday, April 30, when they travel to Southern New Hampshire for an NE10 Northeast Division contest. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. at Penmen Field in Manchester, N.H.
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).