BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (April 17, 2017) – The bats for the Franklin Pierce University baseball team were firing on all cylinders on Monday afternoon in non-conference doubleheader action at The Ballpark at Harbor Yard. In the first game, an 11-run fourth keyed a 17-hit attack, as the Ravens posted a 19-2 win over host Bridgeport. In the second game, Franklin Pierce again built a big lead and had to hang on in the final inning for an 11-10 victory.
With the sweep of the twinbill, Franklin Pierce improves to 22-10, while Bridgeport falls to 14-16. Both games on Monday were seven-inning affairs.
In the first game in the Park City, Franklin Pierce opened its barrage with a run in the top of the second inning. Junior catcher Stephen Octave (New Windsor, N.Y.) led off and drove a long, line-drive home run to left-center field, his fourth home run of the season.
The Ravens added two more in the top of the third to push the lead to 3-0. Senior second baseman Kyle Hood (Arlington, Mass.) took a leadoff walk, moved to second on a single to right by freshman shortstop Joe Napolitano (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) and went to third as senior center fielder Lucas Luopa (Keene, N.H.) bounced into a fielder's choice which saw Napolitano erased at second. With runners at the corners, junior right fielder Adam Chase (Bridgewater, Mass.) then legged out the back end of a fielder's choice as well to drive home Hood, while Luopa was forced out at second. Chase went first-to-third on a single to left-center by junior third baseman John Friday (Southborough, Mass.) and was credited with a steal of home on a first-and-third double-steal play.
Franklin Pierce sent 15 men to the plate and broke the game wide open with an 11-spot in the top half of the fourth to balloon the lead to 14-0. Octave -- who drove in six runs in the game -- had the biggest blow, though the play was a bit of a fluke. With the bases full and two outs, he lifted a pop fly into shallow right-center field. With the second baseman fighting both the wind and the sun, and the right fielder stationed too deep to help, nobody could track down the ball, which fell in, allowing all three runners to score and leaving Octave at first with a rare three-run single. Also in the inning, freshman designated hitter Dylan Jones (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) drove a two-run double into right-center, Luopa cracked a two-run single to center, Chase and Napolitano both had RBI singles to left and Hood drove in a run on a would-be sacrifice fly, though he reached base anyway, as the center fielder misplayed the ball. The Ravens also picked up a run in the frame via a wild pitch.
Four more runs in the sixth and another in the seventh pushed the lead out as far as 19-0. In the eighth, junior first baseman Dalton Davis (Birmingham, Ala.) laced a two-run double to deep right field, Octave drew a bases-loaded walk to force home a run and freshman Richard DiMartino (Yonkers, N.Y.) knocked a pinch-hit, RBI single back up the middle. In the ninth, freshman second baseman John Duffy (Stratford, Conn.) walked leading off and eventually scored on an RBI single to left by Octave.
Bridgeport scratched together two runs off of freshman right-hander Ben Mallet (Athol, Mass.) in the last of the seventh to break up the shutout and create the 19-2 final. Senior left fielder Casey Ouellette was hit by a pitch leading off and later scored while junior designated hitter Mark Hirschbeck reached on an RBI fielder's choice. Meanwhile, junior center fielder Isaiah Rivera reached on an infield single and later scored on an RBI single to right by senior third baseman Casey McCone.
Junior right-hander Ryan Covelle (Medford, Mass.) took the ball and fired the first five innings in the first game for Franklin Pierce. He allowed just one hit over five shutout innings, walked two and struck out one to pick up the win (1-0).
Freshman right-hander Matt Alicki (2-1) started and threw the first 3.1 innings on the hill for Bridgeport. He was ambushed for seven runs (four earned) on five hits, walked three, hit a batter and struck out two while taking the loss.
In the second game, Franklin Pierce opened up a 5-0 lead immediately, with a five-spot in the top of the first inning. After Luopa, Chase and Friday loaded the bases with nobody out, Octave had the big blow again, as he yanked a two-run double down the left-field line to open the scoring. Davis followed with a sacrifice fly to center and Hood later capped the inning by plugging a two-run double the other way into the gap in right-center.
Bridgeport picked up one run in the home half of the first to make it 5-1. Junior left fielder Cam Overbaugh reached on an error leading off, as Napolitano threw the ball away. Overbaugh came around to score on an RBI single to right field by senior shortstop Dylan Steigerwald.
Franklin Pierce got the run right back, as an unearned tally in the top of the second made it 6-1. Luopa reached on catcher's interference leading off, moved to second on a single to left by Chase and scored as Friday pulled an RBI double down the left-field line.
The Purple Knights closed the gap to 6-2 with a run in the bottom of the third. Steigerwald reached on a one-out single to left and motored all the way around to score on a double deep into the gap in left-center by graduate student designated hitter Zach Burger.
Again the Ravens answered, this time with two in the top of the fourth to make it 8-2. An infield single by Friday and a walk to Davis set the table with two outs for Jones, who caught the second game. Jones got a hold of a pitch and drove a long, two-run double over the head of the center fielder.
The teams traded runs in the bottom of the fifth and the top of the sixth to make it a 9-3 game. In the home half of the fifth for Bridgeport, Burger was hit by a pitch leading off and later scored on an RBI single to center by junior right fielder Ben Torres. In the top of the sixth for Franklin Pierce, Chase reached via a walk and ultimately scored on an RBI infield single by Davis, who beat his fellow first baseman to the bag after the pitcher failed to cover on a grounder on the right side.
Bridgeport picked up another run in the bottom of the sixth to cut the gap to 9-4. Senior center fielder Tyler Gambardella doubled to right field leading off and would score on an RBI single to right by Steigerwald.
Franklin Pierce plated what would prove to be an important pair of insurance runs in the top of the seventh to push the lead back out to 11-4. Back-to-back walks to Hood and Napolitano opened the inning, and then things got wild. Junior center fielder Harrison Smoske (Burlington, Mass.) pushed a bunt up the first-base line. The only play the Bridgeport defense had against the speedy Smoske was to hope the ball rolled foul, which it did not, as it stopped just inside the chalk. With neither the catcher nor pitcher immediately covering the plate, Hood took a wide turn around third before thinking better of things as the Purple Knights moved to cover home. The pitcher, senior left-hander Adam Thayer attempted to snap a throw behind Hood at third, but threw the ball away instead, which allowed both Hood and Napolitano to come around to score.
The runs loomed large, as things got dicey for the Ravens in the last of the seventh. Bridgeport sent 11 men to the plate, as three Franklin Pierce pitchers combined to allow six runs on four hits, two walks and a pair of hit batsmen. Burger had the biggest strike of the inning, with a two-run single into left-center which cut the lead down to 11-8. McCone followed and lashed an RBI single to left to make it 11-9 and put the tying run on base. Earlier in the inning, Steigerwald had driven in a run with a bases-loaded walk and Gambardella had picked up an RBI single.
The Ravens had one of their aces on the mound in the form of senior right-hander Cody McPartland (Sound Beach, N.Y.), who came on to try to shut things down and give Franklin Pierce a bit of work out of the bullpen after missing his scheduled start over the weekend. He was greeted rudely, as he allowed the aforementioned two-run single to Burger and the single to McCone before recording a strikeout for the second out of the inning. Then, however, junior second baseman Stephen DiNicola hit a ground ball deep on the left side which nearly tied the game, but Napolitano laid out to keep the ball on the infield and effectively save the game, while Burger scored to make it a one-run contest.
In the first-and-third situation, Burger eventually stole second, moving the winning run into scoring position as McPartland battled with Torres. Ultimately, McPartland was able to avert catastrophe, as he got Torres to hit a comebacker, which he snared and tossed to Davis at first to end the game and allow the Ravens to escape with an 11-10 win.
Freshman right-hander Derek Duffy (Farmington, Conn.) started on the mound in the second game and threw the first four innings for the Ravens. He allowed two runs (one earned) on seven hits, walked one and struck out three to pick up the win (2-0). McPartland allowed a run on three hits over the final two-thirds of an inning, but eventually nailed down his first save of the year.
Junior left-hander Alec Brown (0-1) took the ball for Bridgeport, but lasted just one inning while taking the loss. He allowed five runs on four hits, walked one and hit a batter.
The Ravens return to the field on Tuesday, April 18, when they travel to Southern New Hampshire for a pivotal Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division contest. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. at Penmen Field in Manchester, N.H.
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).