RINDGE, N.H. (May 9, 2017) – A four-run fourth inning keyed an eight-run outburst through the middle frames on Tuesday night for the Franklin Pierce University baseball team in the first round of the Northeast-10 Championship. The Ravens, the Northeast Division's second seed, got 7.2 scoreless innings from senior right-hander Cody McPartland (Sound Beach, N.Y.) as part of a seven-hit shutout and an 8-0 win over third-seeded Merrimack at Dr. Arthur and Martha Pappas Field.
With the win, Franklin Pierce improves to 31-13, while Merrimack sees its season draw to a close at 23-21. In the Northeast Division's other first-round game, top seed Southern New Hampshire squeaked past fourth-seeded Bentley at home, 2-1, in 10 innings.
In the Southwest Division, top seed Southern Connecticut State was upended at home on Tuesday afternoon, 5-2, by fourth-seeded Pace. Meanwhile, second-seeded New Haven tallied a 3-0 shutout of third-seeded Le Moyne.
As a result of the outcomes, New Haven, as the top advancing seed from the Southwest Division, will host the double-elimination portion of the Northeast-10 Championship from Thursday through Sunday at Frank Vieira Field in West Haven, Conn. Franklin Pierce will open the weekend at noon on Thursday against Pace. More information on the Northeast-10 Championship can be found here.
Franklin Pierce opened the scoring on Tuesday with a quartet of runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, which would be all McPartland and the pitching staff needed. The inning started at the top of the order for senior shortstop Lucas Luopa (Keene, N.H.), who rapped a single to left field and promptly moved all the way around to third on an errant pickoff throw. Junior right fielder Adam Chase (Bridgewater, Mass.) followed and cashed in the game's first run with an RBI single through the left side.
After a walk to junior third baseman John Friday (Southborough, Mass.) and an infield single by junior catcher Stephen Octave (New Windsor, N.Y.) loaded the bases, junior first baseman Dalton Davis (Birmingham, Ala.) hit a ground ball back towards the middle of the infield. Merrimack senior second baseman Paul Buckley fielded and stepped on second to force out Octave, but the ball was not hit hard enough to turn the double play, as Davis legged out an RBI fielder's choice.
The game's second run spelled the end of the day for the Merrimack starter, junior left-hander Anthony Lupi, who departed after 3.1 innings. Sophomore right-hander Cam Monagle took over and immediately hit senior designated hitter Chris LaVorgna (North Haven, Conn.) to load the bases again, this time for freshman left fielder Dylan Jones (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.). Jones provided the game's pivotal hit, as he lashed a two-run single into left-center to plate Friday and Davis and open up a 4-0 lead for the Ravens.
Franklin Pierce added a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the fifth to push the lead out to 6-0. Chase led off the inning with a fly ball towards the gap in right-center field. The ball hung up in the hair long enough for Merrimack junior center fielder Tyler Lyne to run underneath it, but the ball caromed off his glove and out towards the fence for a two-base error. After Chase moved to third on a groundout, Octave came to the plate and lifted a towering pop-up into shallow center field. With the infield pulled in, the ball nestled into just the right spot between retreating graduate student shortstop Mike Forgione and a charging Lyne and went for an RBI single. Octave moved to second on a single back up the middle by Davis, went to third on a passed ball and later scored when Jones reached on an error by Forgione at short.
Two more runs in the bottom of the sixth created the 8-0 final. Junior center fielder Harrison Smoske (Burlington, Mass.) led off with a single to left, stole second and eventually came around to score on a two-out single to right by Friday. Charging hard from right field in an attempt to collect the ball and throw out the speedy Smoske at the plate, Merrimack junior right fielder Matt Nicholson overran the ball, which escaped all the way to the fence. The error allowed Friday to circle the bases and score on the play as well.
Meanwhile, McPartland (7-0) was busy spinning 7.2 scoreless innings on 122 pitches (88 strikes). He allowed six hits, walked one, hit two batters, threw a wild pitch and struck out six on the way to the win.
On the other side of the ledger, Lupi (4-4) started and tossed 49 pitches (29 strikes) over the first 3.1 innings. He was charged with four runs on four hits, walked one and did not record a strikeout while taking the loss.
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).