April 1, 2012

Baseball Splits Twinbill at Massachusetts Lowell, Captures Inaugural Keenan Cup

Mathieu hits team-leading fifth home run

Keenan Cup The win in the first game Sunday at Massachusetts Lowell allowed the Ravens to capture the inaugural edition of the Keenan Cup.

LOWELL, Mass. (April 1, 2012) – Junior right fielder Nick LaCroix (Grafton, Mass.) went 3-for-4, scored twice and drove in a run in the first game of a doubleheader on Sunday afternoon as the Franklin Pierce University baseball team posted a 9-3 victory over Massachusetts Lowell in Northeast-10 Conference play at LeLacheur Park. Lowell won a barnburner in the second game, 13-11, behind a 5-for-6 performance by senior third baseman Cam Kneeland, who drove in four runs and scored twice.

With the split, Franklin Pierce is now 14-10-1 (3-2-1 Northeast-10, 2-1-1 Northeast Division), while Massachusetts Lowell is 14-9-1 (4-3-1 Northeast-10, 2-2 Northeast Division).

The two teams have joined to create the Keenan Cup, in honor of the late Adam Keenan, who played for both schools before tragically passing away in June 2011, due to Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy, while practicing with his summer league team, the Seacoast Mavericks. The trophy will be awarded to the team which wins the season series between the two schools each year. The victory in the first game, combined with yesterday's shutout win, allowed the Ravens to lay claim to the inaugural Keenan Cup.

In the first game, the Ravens opened the scoring with two runs in the top of the fourth inning. After the first two batters were retired without fanfare, sophomore first baseman Zach Mathieu (Derry, N.H.) turned on an 0-1 pitch and drove a line-drive home run over the fence in straightaway left, his team-leading fifth homer of the season, to open the scoring. LaCroix followed with a single to center, stole second and scored when freshman catcher Matt Walsh (Plymouth, Mass.) dropped an RBI double inside the left-field line.

Lowell temporarily cut the deficit in half with an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, freshman right fielder Jimmy Ricoy reached on a throwing error by Franklin Pierce freshman third baseman R.J. Going (Bay Shore, N.Y.). Ricoy then moved to second on a single to center by senior first baseman Mark Sanborn and went to third when freshman designated hitter Matthew Sanchez dropped down a sacrifice bunt but reached on an error. Freshman catcher Jacob O'Keefe followed and lined a sacrifice fly to left field to drive home the run.

Franklin Pierce opened up the game with five runs in the top of the sixth to jump to a 7-1 lead. Sophomore left fielder Calvin Graves (Boston, Mass.) had the big blow of the inning, when he drove in two runs by looping a single into no man's land behind first base with the bases loaded. Both LaCroix and Walsh provided RBI singles in the inning, while Graves later stole home on a successful first-and-third double steal.

The Ravens pushed the lead as high as 9-1 with a pair of insurance runs in the top of the ninth inning. Graves singled, stole second and scored on a passed ball, while senior designated hitter Dan Hennigan (Downingtown, Pa.) worked a walk and eventually scored on an RBI single to left by graduate student center fielder James Roche (Arlington, Mass.).

The River Hawks created the 9-3 final by plating a pair of runs in the home half of the ninth. Sanborn led off and scorched a double over the head of Roche in center, went to third on a passed ball and eventually scored when senior center fielder Matt Jacobs reached with an RBI fielder's choice. Jacobs would eventually score on an RBI single to left by Kneeland.

Graduate student left-hander Jack Crawford (Montgomery, N.Y.) took to the mound and picked up the win (3-2) in the first game for the Ravens. Over eight innings of work, he allowed just the one unearned run on six hits, walked one and struck out six.

Sophomore right-hander Mike Calzetta started and took the loss (1-2) on the mound for Massachusetts Lowell. Over 5.1 innings, he allowed six runs (three earned) on seven hits, did not issue a walk and struck out five.

In the second game, Franklin Pierce opened the scoring immediately with three runs in the top of the first inning. Hennigan led off and reached at second base when Jacobs dropped a fly ball in center field. Junior shortstop Dan Kemp (Sturbridge, Mass.) would give the Ravens the lead on the second batter of the game when he followed and drove an RBI double over the head of the left fielder. After a groundout, Kemp scored while Mathieu reached on an error. Mathieu then went first-to-third on a single to right-center by LaCroix and scored on an RBI single back up the middle by Walsh.

The River Hawks responded with five runs of their own in the home half of the first to take a 5-3 lead. Sanchez had the biggest blow of the inning with a two-run single that plated both Ricoy and junior left fielder Pat Devlin. Both Ricoy and Devlin struck RBI singles earlier in the frame, while Kneeland drove in a run with a single in the inning as well.

The Ravens went back in front, 6-5, with three runs in the top of the fourth inning. LaCroix led off with a walk and moved to third on a double into the gap in right-center by Walsh. After a walk to Going loaded the bases, Graves dropped down a squeeze bunt and reached on a fielder's choice, as an error by the pitcher allowed LaCroix to score. Hennigan followed with an RBI single to plate Walsh, and Going later scored on a squeeze play, as Kemp dropped down the sacrifice bunt.

Once again, Lowell responded immediately, this time with three runs in the bottom half of the inning to reclaim the lead at 8-6. O'Keefe started things with a lead-off single to left, went to second on a single to right by Jacobs and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by freshman shortstop Geoff DeGroot, who reached first on an error, which also allowed Jacobs to score on the play. Kneeland followed with a ringing double to left to drive home Jacobs, while DeGroot would score on a sacrifice fly to center by junior second baseman James Katsiroubas.

The River Hawks added two more unearned runs in the bottom of the fifth to extend the lead to 10-6. Sanborn led off and reached on an error by Going at third. Sanchez was next and attempted to sacrifice, but bunted the ball straight back to the pitcher. However, everyone was safe on the play, as junior right-hander Joe Coto (Miami, Fla.) made an errant throw to second base. Coto then issued back-to-back walks to load the bases, force in a run and end his outing, while Kneeland later drove home Sanchez with an RBI single to left.

Franklin Pierce struck five times in the top of the seventh to momentarily surge to an 11-10 lead. Going brought in the first run of the frame with an RBI single which left the bases loaded for Graves, who went the other way with a 1-1 pitch and dumped a bases-clearing double inside the right-field line to tie the game at 10-10. Graves would later score an unearned run as Hennigan reached on an error.

The lead was short-lived however, as Lowell responded with two runs in the home half of the seventh to claim the lead for good. Jacobs worked a lead-off walk, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored when Kneeland clubbed a game-tying double into the gap in left-center to drive home his fourth run of the game. Kneeland moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI single to right by Katsiroubas.

The River Hawks added an insurance run in the eighth to create the 13-11 final. Sanchez led off with an infield single, took second on a wild pitch, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on an RBI single to center by Jacobs.

Sophomore right-hander Ryan Leach (Farmingdale, Maine) started and did not factor in the decision of the three-hour, 45-minute marathon for the Ravens. He lasted just one-third of an inning and was roughed up for five runs on five hits. Freshman right-hander Steve Colella (Leominster, Mass.) eventually took the loss (0-1) out of the bullpen for Franklin Pierce. Over 2.1 innings spanning the fifth, sixth and seventh, he allowed two runs on three hits, threw two wild pitches, walked one and struck out one.

Sophomore right-hander James Hamilton lasted three innings longer than Leach, but was also knocked around and ultimately left without a decision as well. Over 3.1 innings, he allowed six runs (one earned) on five hits, walked two and did not record a strikeout. After allowing all three of his inherited runners to score on the Graves double which tied the game at the time, senior right-hander Dallas Nunes vultured the win (2-2) out of the bullpen for the River Hawks. Over the final 2.1 innings, he allowed one unearned run on three hits, did not issue a walk and struck out three.

The Ravens return to the field on Tuesday, April 3, when they return home to host Southern New Hampshire in a Northeast-10 Conference contest and their home opener. First pitch is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at Pappas Field in Rindge.

For more information on Franklin Pierce Athletics, please visit the official website of Franklin Pierce Athletics (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu). 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).

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