RINDGE, N.H. (May 3, 2019) – With its back firmly up against the wall, the Franklin Pierce University baseball team rallied for three runs in the eighth inning on Friday night, to pull out a 3-2 win in the second game of a doubleheader against Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division foe Assumption at Dr. Arthur and Martha Pappas Field. The win forced a split of the twinbill, after Assumption posted a 5-3 win in the first game and set up a scenario where the two will faceoff for the final spot in the NE10 Championship on Saturday.
With the split, Franklin Pierce now stands at 22-21 (15-12 NE10, 11-9 NE Div.), while Assumption moves to 26-17 (14-11 NE10, 11-9 NE Div.). The two teams will meet at Pappas Field again on Saturday, for a single game beginning at noon. The winner will take the division's fourth and final berth in the NE10 Championship, while the loser will be left out of the league tournament. Franklin Pierce has qualified for the NE10 Championship in each of its previous 18 seasons in the league.
Game 1: Assumption 5, Franklin Pierce 3
In the first game, Assumption struck for single runs in both the second and third innings, and the game remained without further scoring until the top of the seventh, when the Greyhounds plated a pair to double the lead to 4-0. After sophomore first baseman Dillon Koster led off with a single back up the middle, junior third baseman Matt Lonardo jumped on an 0-1 pitch and belted a two-run homer deep into the power alley in left-center. His second home run of the season traveled an estimated 380 feet.
After being held to just two hits through the first six innings, the Franklin Pierce offense finally woke up in the home half of the seventh. Junior right fielder John Mead (Washington Township, N.J.) put a hurt on the first pitch of the inning and drove his fourth home run of the season an estimated 385 feet, just to the left of straightaway right field, to cut the gap to 4-1. The Ravens would pick up two more hits later in the inning, but left them on base, as part of a game where they left 11 men on.
Assumption chalked up an insurance run in the top of the ninth. With two outs, Lonardo walked, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI single through the right side of the infield by senior center fielder Alex Richardson.
Franklin Pierce gave it a go in the home half of the ninth, but would ultimately leave the tying run at first. With two outs, senior left fielder Brad Roberto (San Diego, Calif.) doubled into the gap in left-center and scored when junior catcher Dylan Jones (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) followed with his first home run of the season, a two-run shot of an estimated 380 feet into the power alley in left-center. A single and an error put the tying runs on base, but Assumption freshman right-hander Pat Harrington struck out freshman third baseman Jethro Hurt (New York, N.Y.) on five pitches to put an end to things.
Junior right-hander Derek Duffy (Farmington, Conn.) took the ball for Franklin Pierce in the first game and threw 108 pitches (76 strikes) over the first 6.2 innings. He allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits, did not issue a walk, balked once and struck out seven while suffering the loss (4-2).
Meanwhile, sophomore right-hander Brendan Desautels (2-3) went the first six-plus for Assumption on 81 pitches (52 strikes). He picked up the win after allowing one run on three hits, walking three and striking out seven as well.
Game 2: Franklin Pierce 3, Assumption 2
The second game would feature high drama late, after Assumption played most of the night with the lead. The Greyhounds opened the scoring with a run in the top of the second, as Koster walked with one out and came around to score from first on a two-out double into the gap in right-center by senior shortstop Hunter Tralli.
The next five innings would go without further scoring, as Franklin Pierce senior right-hander Zach Hart (Wallingford, Conn.) dueled with Assumption sophomore right-hander James McNamara. Assumption added an insurance run in the top of the eighth, when Tralli deposited the first pitch of the inning into the parking lot beyond the left-field fence. His team-leading sixth home run of the season traveled an estimated 380 feet to straightaway left and doubled the lead to 2-0.
Facing elimination from postseason contention, the Ravens responded with a trio of runs in the last of the eighth to jump to a 3-2 lead. Junior shortstop James Boria (Massapequa, N.Y.) singled back through the middle leading off, before freshman center fielder Joel Lara (New York, N.Y.) worked a full count and earned a six-pitch walk. Jones was next, dropped a beauty of a bunt down the third-base line and appeared to have narrowly beat the throw to first base for a bunt single.
No call was ever needed from the base umpire on the would-be bang-bang play though, as Adamson sailed the throw well over the head of sophomore first baseman Dillon Zona and down the right-field line. Boria and Lara both scampered home on the error to tie the game, while Jones wound up at second base.
Assumption turned to senior right-hander Mike Keinz, who recorded a pair of strikeouts and had a chance to work out of the inning with the game still tied, but he could not retire senior designated hitter Ural Forbes (Freeport, Bahamas) as well. Forbes worked a 3-1 count and then yanked the fifth pitch of the at-bat through the left side of the infield. Head coach Mike Chambers was waving Jones home all the way, as senior left fielder Trevor McQuade charged the ball. McQuade mishandled the ball though, and Jones scored without a play at the plate to give the Ravens the lead.
Graduate student right-hander Ryan Covelle (Medford, Mass.) took over for Hart to start the ninth. He got the first two outs in short order, but then hit two batters to put the tying run in scoring position. Covelle got Tralli, who had homered the previous inning, to fly out to Lara in center to end the ballgame and nail down his first save of the season. Covelle is a candidate to turn around and start Saturday's game, with the season on the line again for Franklin Pierce.
The eighth-inning rally made a winner out of Hart (4-0), who was strong over eight innings of work and 90 pitches (58 strikes). He allowed two runs on four hits, walked two, hit a batter and struck out six.
McNamara threw 96 pitches (62 strikes) over seven scoreless innings on the mound for Assumption, but did not factor in the decision. He allowed three hits, walked two and struck out four. Freshman right-hander MacGuire O'Sullivan (3-4) took over to start the eighth and would not retire any of the three batters he faced. He was ultimately charged with three runs (two earned) on two hits and a walk, and took the loss after Keinz allowed the inherited runner to score.
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).