Roche Hammers Walk-Off Homer, Baseball Stuns No. 4/10 Southern New Hampshire

Roche Hammers Walk-Off Homer, Baseball Stuns No. 4/10 Southern New Hampshire

Ravens rally from 5-2 deficit

Roche Roche's fourth home run of the season gave the Ravens a dramatic victory in their home opener against SNHU on Tuesday.

RINDGE, N.H. (April 3, 2012) – Graduate student center fielder James Roche (Arlington, Mass.) clubbed a two-run, walk-off home run deep into the Rindge twilight in left-center field on Tuesday evening to cap a late-inning rally and give the Franklin Pierce University baseball team a 6-5 victory over No. 4/10 nationally ranked Southern New Hampshire in Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division play at Dr. Arthur and Martha Pappas Field. Junior right fielder Nick LaCroix (Grafton, Mass.) and freshman catcher Matt Walsh (Plymouth, Mass.) each had RBI singles in the eighth to set the stage for the ninth-inning dramatics.

With the win, Franklin Pierce improves to 15-10-1 (4-2-1 Northeast-10, 3-1-1 Northeast Division). Southern New Hampshire falls to 25-3 (8-1 Northeast-10, 4-1 Northeast Division).

Down by a run heading into the bottom of the ninth inning, senior second baseman Dan Hennigan (Downingtown, Pa.) started the rally by lining a one-out single to left field. After Hennigan stole second and junior shortstop Dan Kemp (Sturbridge, Mass.) struck out swinging, Roche came to the plate with the tying run at second base and two away. He fouled off the first pitch and took two balls before swinging through a fastball on the inner half to level the count at 2-2. The fifth pitch was a slider that hung over the middle of the plate, and Roche deposited it beyond the fence in left-center to ignite the celebration.

Earlier in the day, Southern New Hampshire opened the scoring with two runs in the top of the third inning. Sophomore first baseman Riley Palmer and sophomore center fielder Brendan O'Brien worked back-to-back walks to start the inning and then the Penmen loaded the bases when senior catcher Kevin Spatkowski dropped a bunt single down the third-base line. Franklin Pierce junior left-hander Vladimir Camacho (Jamaica Plain, Mass.) fielded the ball and attempted to throw out Spatkowski. However, the throw was in the dirt and skipped down the right-field line, allowing two runs to score.

Franklin Pierce responded with a run in the home half of the third to cut the deficit to 2-1. With one out, Hennigan pulled a double down the left-field line and came into score when Kemp reached on an error.

The Ravens picked up another run in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game at 2-2. Sophomore first baseman Zach Mathieu (Derry, N.H.) started the inning with a single through the right side of the infield and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Mathieu would score two batters later on an RBI single back up the middle by junior second baseman Anthony Peguero (Hyde Park, Mass.).

SNHU quickly reclaimed the lead at 4-2 with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth inning. With one out, O'Brien worked a five-pitch walk and moved to second on a single through the right side of the infield by Spatkowski. After a wild pitch put both runners in scoring position, junior shortstop Matt Boulter lined a two-run single into center field.

The Penmen pushed the lead as high as 5-2 with a run in the top of the seventh. Palmer led off with an infield single off the pitcher, moved to second on a balk and went to third on a bunt single by Spatkowski. Later, with the bases loaded, junior right fielder Jon Minucci took a four-pitch walk to force in the run.

Franklin Pierce started its rally with two runs in the bottom of the eighth. Kemp opened the inning with a single to left, but was erased as Roche beat out a potential double-play ball to reach on a fielder's choice. Roche moved around to third on a double off the right-field fence by Mathieu and scored on a single through the right side of the infield by LaCroix. The single moved Mathieu to third, and he would score from there on a single up the middle and off the glove of the second baseman by Walsh. The two-run inning narrowed the gap to 5-4 and set the stage for the ninth-inning rally.

Camacho started and did not factor in the decision on the mound for the Ravens. Over five-plus innings, he allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits, walked four, hit a batter and struck out five. Freshman right-hander Doug Willey (Shelburne, N.H.) threw scoreless eighth and ninth innings to pick up his first career win (1-0) out of the bullpen. He allowed just one hit, did not issue a walk and struck out four.

Junior left-hander Tim Flight started for SNHU and also did not factor in the decision. Over eight innings, he allowed four runs (three earned) on 11 hits, walked one and struck out 11. Sophomore right-hander David Gibson took over for the ninth and took the loss (1-1) for the Penmen. He recorded two outs, but surrendered two runs on two hits and struck out one.

The Ravens return to the field on Thursday, April 5, when they remain home to host Felician in a non-conference doubleheader. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Pappas Field.

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