CARY, N.C. (March 11, 2017) – Sophomore right-hander Zach Hart (Wallingford, Conn.) fired eight shutout innings and rolled up 15 groundball outs on Saturday afternoon, as the Franklin Pierce University baseball team pounded out 16 hits to roll to an 8-1 win over St. Augustine's in non-conference play at the USA Baseball National Training Complex. The loss allowed the Ravens to edge back above .500, after a late rally fell short and they suffered a 7-6 loss at the hands of Slippery Rock earlier in the day.
With the split, Franklin Pierce now stands at 6-5 on the season. Slippery Rock improved to 4-4 with the victory, while St. Augustine's fell to 9-16 with the loss.
In the first game of the day, Slippery Rock -- which played as the visiting team -- jumped out to a 2-0 lead with an unearned run in the top of the first, as well as a run in the top of the second. In the first, junior left fielder Luca Fuscardo reached on a one-out error by senior second baseman Kyle Hood (Arlington, Mass.), wound up on second on the play, and scored on a double by junior catcher Tyler Walters. In the second, sophomore shortstop Joe Campagna doubled with one out, moved to third on a single by junior second baseman Mitchell Wood and ultimately scored on an RBI double by senior right fielder James Divosevic.
Franklin Pierce struck back with two runs in the bottom half of the second to forge a 2-2 tie. Junior first baseman Dalton Davis (Birmingham, Ala.) walked leading off and moved to second on a single by junior catcher Stephen Octave (New Windsor, N.Y.), before both runners moved up on a sacrifice bunt. Hood made up for his error by cashing in both runners with a two-run double.
Slippery Rock reclaimed the lead, for good this time, with a run in the top of the fourth. Sophomore third baseman Tyler Merigliano started things with a one-out single, moved around to third on a double by Divosevic, and scored on an RBI single by Fuscardo.
The Rock broke the game open with four runs in the top of the sixth to push the lead to 7-2. Campagna led off with a single, later moved to second on a single by Divosevic and scored on an RBI single by Fuscardo, which also moved Divosevic to second. Walters provided the big blow of the inning, by following with a three-run home run to make it a five-run game.
Franklin Pierce nearly rallied all the way back in the bottom of the seventh, plating four runs to cut the gap to 7-6. Junior left fielder Adam Chase (Bridgewater, Mass.) led off with his first collegiate home run, as he turned on a fastball and put it off the foul pole down the left-field line. Hood then walked and moved around to third as senior shortstop Lucas Luopa (Keene, N.H.) reached at second on an error by Merigliano at third. Junior third baseman John Friday (Southborough, Mass.) was next, with an RBI single to score Hood, while Luopa came home to score on a sacrifice fly to right by senior designated hitter Chris LaVorgna (North Haven, Conn.). Davis then cashed in Friday with a run-scoring double. However, the tying run was left at second base, as Octave struck out to end the inning.
Franklin Pierce was unable to get the tying run into scoring position again over the final two innings, as Slippery Rock held on for the 7-6 victory.
Coming off a 122-pitch shutout at Adelphi last weekend, junior right-hander John Amendola (Wallingford, Mass.) was not as effective on Saturday for the Ravens. Over six innings, he was touched for seven runs (six earned) on 12 hits, did not issue a walk and struck out nine while taking the loss (1-2).
On the other side of the ledger, junior right-hander Alex Pantuso (1-0) logged the first 6.1 innings for Slippery Rock. He allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits, walked three and struck out seven while picking up the win. Senior left-hander Josh Coleman allowed just one baserunner -- which he erased via a double play -- over the final 1.2 innings to nail things down and record his second save of the season.
In the second game of the day, Franklin Pierce opened the scoring with a quartet of runs in the top of the fourth and never looked back. Everything started with two outs, as Chase was hit by a pitch, moved to second on a single by Hood and scored on an RBI single by junior right fielder Harrison Smoske (Burlington, Mass.). An error on the play left runners at second and third for Luopa, who brought home Hood with an infield single. After a walk to Friday loaded the bases, LaVorgna knocked a two-run single to center to plate Smoske and Luopa.
The Ravens added single runs in both the fifth and sixth innings to push the lead to 6-0. Davis led off the top of the fifth with his first home run as a Raven, a solo shot the other way to right field. In the sixth, LaVorgna was hit by a pitch with two outs. He then stole second, wound up on third on the play via an error, and later scored on an RBI single to left by Octave.
Franklin Pierce tacked on two runs in the top of the ninth to push the lead as high as 8-0. Freshman catcher Dylan Jones (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) reached with his first collegiate hit and later scored on an RBI single to left by Chase, while junior center fielder Tim Going (Islip, N.Y.) singled and later scored when Smoske bounced into a fielder's choice to pick up an RBI.
St. Augustine's picked up its only run in the home half of the ninth to create the 8-1 final. With two outs, senior right fielder Timothy Carter drove his fourth home run of the season to right field.
Meanwhile, Hart (1-1) shut the Falcons down for his eight innings of shutout work. He allowed five hits, walked one and struck out three, while keeping the ball almost exclusively on the ground. He allowed just one extra-base hit in the outing.
For St. Augustine's, it was sophomore Hector Pichardo (0-2) who was knocked around over the first 5.2 innings. He was tagged for five runs (three earned) on 11 hits, walked one, hit a batter and struck out three while taking the loss.
After splitting four games over its first two days in North Carolina, the Ravens get what is likely a much-needed day off on Sunday. Franklin Pierce returns to the field for a quick, two-game series at Mount Olive, which opens on Monday, March 13. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. at Scarborough Field in Mount Olive, N.C.
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).