New Hampshire Hardball

Franklin Pierce falls in 12th

CARY, N.C. – The Franklin Pierce University baseball team erased deficits of 2-0 and 4-2 on Sunday afternoon at the USA Baseball National Training complex, but were never able to claim the lead in a non-conference, neutral-site contest against Slippery Rock. Instead, a 12th-inning infield single by senior left fielder Ray Scala drove in the winning run, as The Rock dealt the Ravens a 5-4, extra-inning defeat. Senior left fielder Brad Roberto (San Diego, Calif.) went 2-for-5 and drove in a pair of runs for Franklin Pierce in defeat.

Box Score

With the loss, Franklin Pierce fell to 5-3, while Slippery Rock improved to 5-3. The Ravens will get one more shot at Slippery Rock on Thursday, which is the team’s final day in North Carolina.

Slippery Rock, which played as the visiting team, opened the scoring with single runs in the first and third to stake out a 2-0 lead. In the first, senior center fielder Frankie Jezioro led off with a triple to the gap in left-center and scored three batters later when sophomore third baseman Abraham Mow bounced into an RBI fielder’s choice. In the third, freshman second baseman Jon Kozarian led off with an infield single, moved to second on a hit batsman and then came around to score on an error.

Franklin Pierce responded with two runs in the bottom half of the third to level things at 2-2. With one out, freshman center fielder Graham Smith (Wilmington, Mass.) reached on an infield single in front of sophomore right fielder Nicholas Martino (East Brunswick, N.J.), who walked. Back-to-back passed balls allowed Smith to score and Martino to move around to third, before Roberto cashed in the second run with an RBI single to right field.

Slippery Rock reclaimed the lead with a pair of unearned runs in the top of the fifth. With one out, back-to-back errors allowed Kozarian and Jezioro to reach base. Later, with two outs, senior shortstop Joe Campagna and Mow made the errors hurt, as each drove in a run with back-to-back RBI singles.

Franklin Pierce would even things again, and force extra innings, with a run in the fifth and another in the eighth. In the fifth, Smith struck out, but reached base on a passed ball, moved to second when Martino was hit by a pitch, went to third on a single by Roberto and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by junior shortstop James Boria (Massapequa, N.Y.). In the eighth, freshman Joel Lara (Boston, Mass.) took over as a pinch runner at first base after freshman second baseman Zach Landry (Mashpee, Mass.) led off with a walk. Lara moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Smith, went to third on a single by Martino and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Roberto.

Neither team got a runner farther than first base in the ninth, 10th or 11th innings, before Slippery Rock struck for the game-winning run in the top of the 12th. The Rock did all the damage with two outs, as Jezioro walked, stole second and then scored on an RBI infield single to second base by Scala.

In the bottom half of the 12th, Franklin Pierce would get the tying run to third with two outs, in the form of junior catcher Dylan Jones (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.), and had the winning run on base as well, but Martino bounced out to third to end the game.

The run in the top of the 12th made a winner out of Slippery Rock freshman left-hander JT Wolke (2-0), who got a double play to work around a one-out single and pitch a scoreless 11th inning. Senior right-hander Wyatt Daugherty then worked into and out of trouble in the 12th, as he walked one and hit a batter before stranding a pair to notch his fourth save of the campaign.

Daugherty was the last of seven Slippery Rock bullpen arms to appear in relief of freshman right-hander Ricky Mineo, who departed after just 3.2 innings of work. He allowed two unearned runs on four hits, walked three, hit a batter and struck out two.

On the other side of the ledger, graduate student right-hander Ryan Covelle (Medford, Mass.) logged the first 6.1 innings for Franklin Pierce. He allowed four runs (one earned) on four hits, hit a pair of batters and struck out six. Later, freshman right-hander Danny Gracia (Wilmington, Mass.) took over to start the 10th and suffered the loss (0-1) after eventually surrendering the run in the 12th. In all, he allowed one run on one hit over three innings, walked one and struck out four.

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