New Hampshire Hardball

Ravens break out the bats

CARY, N.C. – It turned into a bit of barnburner at the USA Baseball National Training Complex on Tuesday afternoon, as Franklin Pierce and Fairmont State combined for 22 runs on 24 hits. It was the Ravens who did the majority of the damage though, as they posted a 16-6, non-conference victory.

Every member of the Franklin Pierce starting lineup either scored or drove in at least one run on the day, led by sophomore right fielder Nicholas Martino (East Brunswick, N.J.) and senior left fielder Brad Roberto (San Diego, Calif.), who scored three times each.

With the win, Franklin Pierce improves to 6-3, while Fairmont State falls to 8-5.

The teams traded runs in the second inning to open the scoring. In the top half, Fairmont State, which played as the visiting team, took a 1-0 lead as sophomore right fielder Nick Mann doubled with one out, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on an RBI single by junior shortstop Chris Green. In the bottom half, senior catcher Ural Forbes (Freeport, Bahamas) doubled with one out, and later came around to score on an error.

Fairmont State briefly edged back out front with a run in the top of the third. Senior center fielder Kevin Ayala led off with a single, stole second, moved to third on a groundout and scored on an RBI single by senior first baseman Tyler Skidmore.

Franklin Pierce took the lead for good with a four-spot in the bottom half of the third. Junior first baseman Jonel Ozuna (New York, N.Y.) and freshman third baseman Jethro Hurt (New York, N.Y.) each had two-run hits in the frame, as Ozuna doubled home Martino and freshman center fielder Graham Smith (Wilmington, Mass.), while Hurt singled to score Ozuna and Roberto.

The Ravens broke things wide open with two in the fifth, four in the sixth and three more in the seventh to stretch the lead all the way out to 14-2. In the fifth, Roberto tripled and later scored on an error, while Ozuna walked and eventually scored on an RBI single by Hurt, who drove in three on the day. In the sixth, Forbes doubled home a pair to cap the inning, after one run had scored on a passed ball and Roberto had singled home another. In the seventh, Martino doubled home two runs and Smith knocked in a run with an RBI single.

The teams then combined for six runs in the eighth to extend what was already a lengthy afternoon. Fairmont State cashed in four in the top half, with one run scoring on an error and three more coming around on a bases-loaded double by senior second baseman Joseph LaRocca. In the bottom half, it was two for Franklin Pierce, with one scoring via an RBI groundout by junior designated hitter Dylan Jones (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) and another coming home on a passed ball.

Senior right-hander Shane Kittila (Warwick, R.I.) took the ball for Franklin Pierce on Tuesday and made his way through six innings, which was enough to pick up the win (2-1). He allowed two runs (one earned) on 10 hits, walked one and struck out three.

Senior right-hander Sam Aloi (1-1) was the first of five pitchers to take the mound for Fairmont State on the day. He surrendered seven runs (three earned) on five hits, walked three and struck out three while taking the loss.

The Ravens return to the field on Wednesday, which will be the team’s penultimate day in North Carolina. Franklin Pierce will take on St. Thomas Aquinas at 11:30 a.m. and Nyack at 3 p.m. at the USA Baseball National Training Complex.

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