SYRACUSE, N.Y. (May 11, 2019) – A five-run fifth inning turned the tide for good on Saturday afternoon, as the Franklin Pierce University baseball team extended its season yet again at the Onondaga Baseball Complex, on the final day of the Northeast-10 Conference Baseball Championship, hosted by Le Moyne. Junior right fielder John Mead (Washington Township, N.J.) went 4-for-4, as the Ravens posted an 8-5 win over Merrimack to force a winner-take-all final game later on Saturday.
With the win, Franklin Pierce improves to 27-22 and staves off elimination for the third straight game. With the loss, Merrimack falls to 28-19. The two teams will meet again at 3:20 p.m. at the Onondaga Baseball Complex, and the winner will claim the NE10 title.
Trailing 4-1, Franklin Pierce took the lead for good with a quintet of runs in the top of the fifth inning. Four straight one-out singles combined to plate the first two runs, as freshman center fielder Joel Lara (Boston, Mass.) and junior catcher Dylan Jones (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) singled to set the table for senior left fielder Brad Roberto (San Diego, Calif.) and Mead, who knocked back-to-back RBI singles. The rest of the damage came with two outs, as freshman third baseman Jethro Hurt (New York, N.Y.) pulled an RBI double inside the bag at third, a wild pitch brought in a run and junior first baseman Jonel Ozuna (New York, N.Y.) dumped an RBI single into left field.
Merrimack closed the gap to 6-5 in the bottom of the seventh, on an RBI single to left by senior first baseman Matthew Ronai, but could get no closer. Franklin Pierce tacked on a pair in the top of the eighth to create the 8-5 final. Freshman right fielder Graham Smith (Wilmington, Mass.), who had taken over defensively for Mead, provided the final blow of the game, as his spot came up with the bases loaded and two away, and he lined a two-run single into left field to cap the scoring.
Freshman right-hander Danny Gracia (Wilmington, Mass.) started and threw the first three innings on the mound for Franklin Pierce. He allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits, hit a batter and struck out three. Sophomore left-hander Patrick Hannon (Willington, Conn.) took over for the next three-plus and picked up the win (2-2) out of the bullpen. He surrendered one run on four hits, walked two and struck out two. Franklin Pierce's ace, senior right-hander Zach Hart (Wallingford, Conn.) came on and did not allow a hit over the final 2.1 innings to nail things down for his second save of the season.
On the other side of the ledger, senior right-hander Riley Sorenson (3-5) started and suffered the loss for Merrimack. He threw 85 pitches (55 strikes) over 4.2 innings, was charged with six runs on eight hits, walked three and struck out two.
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).