Maloney 8.1 innings with seven strikeouts; LaCroix drives home two
Maloney threw 8.1 innings and struck out seven on Wednesday night in an elmination contest against Kutztown.
CARY, N.C. (May 26, 2010) – Junior left-hander Brian Maloney (Brockton, Mass.) threw 8.1 innings, allowed two runs and struck out seven on Wednesday night to lead the No. 13/24 nationally ranked and East Region champion Franklin Pierce University baseball team to a 6-2 victory over No. 6/9 and Atlantic Region champion Kutztown in an elimination game on the fifth day of the NCAA Championship National Finals, hosted by Mount Olive at the USA Baseball National Training Complex.
With the win, Franklin Pierce improves to 43-16-1 and advances to the semifinal round against California, San Diego, beginning Thursday at 7 p.m. The Ravens will need to defeat the Tritons once Thursday and once Friday to advance to the national championship game. With the loss, Kutztown concludes its season at 42-15.
For Franklin Pierce, it is the third national semifinal appearance in program history. The Ravens previously played in the semifinal round in 2003 and 2006.
Franklin Pierce opened the scoring with an unearned run in the bottom of the first inning. With two outs, senior right fielder Phil Hendricks (Pittsfield, Maine) hit a groundball to shortstop but reached on a throwing error by Kutztown senior shortstop Mike Kacelowicz. Hendricks wound up on second on the play and came in to score on an RBI double by junior third baseman Derek Ingui (Sterling, Mass.).
The Ravens would push the lead to 3-0 with two runs in the bottom of the second inning. With one out, freshman center fielder Nick LaCroix (Grafton, Mass.) hit a double over the head of the center fielder which one-hopped the wall at the 400-foot mark in straightaway center. Senior second baseman Cody Kauffman (Blue Bell, Pa.) followed and pulled a double inside third base and down the left-field line to drive home LaCroix. Kauffman would later steal third and score on a wild pitch.
Kutztown cut into the lead with a run in the top of the fourth to make it 3-1. Sophomore left fielder Shayne Houck led off and clubbed a double the other way over the head of Hendricks and into the right-center field gap. He would later move to third on a fly ball to right and eventually score on a double down the left-field line by senior catcher Matt Kulbacki.
Franklin Pierce would break the game open and push the lead all the way to 6-1 with three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Sophomore catcher Mike Dowd (East Bridgewater, Mass.) led off with a single back through the middle and moved around to third on a double the other way and inside the right-field line by Ingui. Junior left fielder Mike Munoz (Bronx, N.Y.) followed and pushed a single over the infield and into right field to drive home Dowd and move Ingui to third. After a walk loaded the bases, LaCroix bounced a single through the left side to drive home both Ingui and Munoz.
Kutztown closed within four and created the 6-2 final with a run in the top of the seventh inning when Kulbacki led off the inning and hammered his third home run of the season to left field.
Maloney started on the mound and picked up the win (5-5) on the mound for Franklin Pierce, after taking the loss out of the bullpen against Kutztown on Sunday. On Wednesday, he threw 8.1 innings, allowed two runs on eight hits, walked three and struck out seven. Junior right-hander Rob Nicholas (Southborough, Mass.) earned his 10th save of the season by retiring the final two batters of the game, including one strikeout.
Senior right-hander Adam Maini toed the rubber and took the loss (2-3) for Kutztown. Over six innings, he allowed six runs (five earned) on seven hits, walked one, threw a wild pitch and struck out five.