May 25, 2013

Brock’s Eighth-Inning RBI Single, Graham’s Nine Strikeouts Lift No. 11 Baseball to 1-0 Win Over No. 17 Shippensburg in National Finals Opener

Razzino draws walk, scores lone run

Postgame Quotes
Full Game Replay (via NCAA.com)
Highlights of both Saturday games (via NCAA.com) 

Brock Brock's RBI single in the eighth stood as the game-winning hit on Saturday against Shippensburg, as the Ravens won their National Finals opener for the first time since 2003.

CARY, N.C. (May 25, 2013) – Freshman second baseman Justin Brock (Latham, N.Y.) pulled a two-out RBI single through the left side of the infield in the bottom of the eighth inning on Saturday afternoon at the USA Baseball National Training Complex. It brought home what would stand as the game's only run, as the No. 11 nationally ranked and East Region champion Franklin Pierce University baseball team posted a 1-0 win over No. 17 Shippensburg, the Atlantic Region champion, in the first game of the NCAA Championship National Finals, co-hosted by Town of Cary and Matt Olive College. Junior right-hander Trevor Graham (Sebastian, Fla.) struck out nine over eight shutout innings on the mound in the victory for Franklin Pierce.

With the win, Franklin Pierce improves to 37-17, while Shippensburg falls to 32-22. Franklin Pierce advances to play at 5 p.m. on Monday against the winner of Saturday's 5 p.m. game, which features Midwest Region champion Grand Valley State and Central Region champion Minnesota State, Mankato. At press time, the game was scoreless in the top of the third. The winner of Monday's game will advance to the national semifinals as an undefeated team in the double-elimination tournament. Shippensburg will face elimination at 1 p.m. Monday against the loser of Saturday's 5 p.m. game.

Saturday marked only the second time Franklin Pierce has won its first game at the National Finals in its six trips. The other time was in its very first appearance, in 2003, when the team finished as national semifinalists.

The lone run of the game came in the top of the eighth inning for Franklin Pierce after seven scoreless innings on each side of the ledger. With one out, sophomore center fielder John Razzino (Cranston, R.I.) worked a seven-pitch walk. He was in motion for a hit-and-run play on a 2-1 pitch to sophomore third baseman Matt O'Herron (Springfield, Mass.), who put the ball in play, but pulled the grounder onto the left side of the infield. With Razzino running, the Ravens stayed out of the double play, as Razzino advanced to second while the shortstop threw out O'Herron at first. The play proved pivotal when Brock, hitting out of the nine hole, turned on a 1-1 pitch and hit a hard groundball through the left side of the infield for a two-out RBI single.

Now with the lead in hand, Franklin Pierce turned to junior right-hander and closer Joe Flynn (Plymouth, Mass.) for the top of the ninth inning. He got a first-pitch pop-up from senior right fielder Cody Kulp, but then hit sophomore second baseman Jimmy Spanos with the second pitch of his at-bat. Flynn would leave Spanos at first however, as he got a six-pitch flyout to center from junior first baseman Dan Wimer and then a six-pitch groundout to first base from freshman shortstop Mike Marcinko to end the game and pick up his fifth save of the season.

The Brock RBI single put Franklin Pierce on the winning side of what had been a classic pitching duel, with neither starter giving much ground during their time on the mound. Graham allowed seven hits -- the most against him since April 10 -- but he was able to scatter them across his eight innings of work to keep the Raiders off the board. Three walks -- his most since March 23 -- and a hit batsman made for four other baserunners, but Shippensburg still only got one runner to third base and two others to second, as the Ravens played error-free defense and turned two double plays behind Graham. He mixed in nine strikeouts along the way and threw 82 of his 122 pitches for strikes before Brock's single got him a win (10-2).

The biggest threat against Graham's line of zeroes on the scoreboard came in the top of the fifth inning. Kulp knocked a single into left-center, Spanos bounced another one through the left side of the infield and, after a passed ball moved the runners up, Wimer worked a six-pitch walk to load the bases with nobody out. In Graham's own words in the postgame press conference, facing the jam in such a pitcher's duel "just makes me pitch harder." He left all three runners out there, as he got Marcinko to hit a line drive straight at Brock at second base, froze junior center fielder Michael Douglas with a 1-2 fastball and got junior third baseman Cal Hogan -- a former Raven -- in an 0-2 hole and induced a foul pop-up behind first base which junior first baseman Zach Mathieu (Derry, N.H.) tracked down to end the inning. Graham was visibly emotional after working out of the tight spot, as he pumped his fist several times while walking off the mound towards the third-base dugout.

Though less-dominant in his command, Shippensburg junior right-hander Pat Kregeloh allowed even less contact in his outing. Franklin Pierce had baserunners in each of the first two innings, but both were thrown out on the basepaths, as senior shortstop Dan Kemp (Sturbridge, Mass.) was picked off in the first and senior right fielder Nick LaCroix (Grafton, Mass.) was caught stealing in the second. After LaCroix's walk leading off the second, Kregeloh set down 14 straight Ravens before issuing a lead-off walk in the seventh to junior left fielder Calvin Graves (Boston, Mass.). Kregeloh walked four on the day, and while one was intentional, each of the other three were to the first batter of the inning. The final of the three lead-off walks was to Razzino in the eighth, which turned into the game's only run. In all, over 7.2 innings, Kregeloh allowed just the one run on two hits, struck out four and threw 106 pitches, including 61 strikes, while taking the loss (9-5).

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). Fans wishing to purchase Franklin Pierce baseball apparel can do so at the Department of Athletics' online store (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu/store).

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