New Hampshire Hardball

Franklin Pierce upsets SNHU

MANCHESTER – For the third straight game, the Franklin Pierce University baseball team needed a win to extend its season. For the third straight game, the Ravens got it, this time in the form of a 3-2 win on the road at rival Southern New Hampshire on Tuesday afternoon, in the first round of the Northeast-10 Conference Championship.


Freshman Danny Gracia (Wilmington, Mass.), senior Evan Glew (North Andover, Mass.) and senior Zach Hart (Wallingford, Mass.) combined to throw a six-hitter, while junior catcher Dylan Jones (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) provided a key solo home run for the fourth-seeded Ravens at Penmen Field.

With the win, Franklin Pierce improves to 24-21, and advances to the double-elimination, weekend portion of the NE10 Championship, scheduled for Thursday through Saturday. Southern New Hampshire – the Northeast Division’s top seed – fells to 36-12 and is eliminated, though the Penmen are expected to earn an at-large berth into the NCAA Championship, which begins next week.

Franklin Pierce will open the double-elimination portion of the NE10 Championship against Le Moyne, the third seed out of the Southwest Division, which defeated second-seeded Pace in a first-round contest on Tuesday, 2-1. With the weather questionable for the remainder of the week, the NE10 is holding off on announcing Thursday’s game times and locations until Wednesday morning.

On Tuesday, the Ravens were able to jump to a 3-0 lead with single runs in the first, third and fourth innings. In the first, freshman center fielder Joel Lara (Boston, Mass.) singled up the middle, advanced on an error and scored on an RBI single through the left side of the infield by senior left fielder Brad Roberto (San Diego, Calif.). In the third, Roberto again singled through the left side, moved to third on a double to center field by junior right fielder John Mead (Washington Township, N.J.) and then scored on a sacrifice fly to center by junior first baseman Jonel Ozuna (New York, N.Y.). In the fourth, Jones did the damage himself with two outs, as he cracked a solo home run to center field, his second of the season.

Franklin Pierce also left the bases loaded in the first and left two more men on in the third, as part of a day where it left nine men on base. The Ravens’ pitching would do just enough to make sure the stranded men did not matter.

Gracia got things started and departed after surrendering a pair of runs in the fifth. Over 4.2 innings, he allowed four hits and walked one. Glew (2-3) took over from there, and the southpaw was electric for 3.2 innings to earn the win out of the bullpen. He did not allow a run on just one hit, did not issue a walk and piled up six strikeouts among the 11 outs he recorded.

SNHU cut the gap to 3-2 against Gracia in the fifth. Junior third baseman Jake Coro led off with a sharp ground ball to first, which took an awful hop over Ozuna’s head and down the right-field line for a double. Coro moved to third on a flyout and scored on an RBI groundout by sophomore center fielder Idelson Taveras. Junior shortstop Tom Blandini followed and clubbed a solo home run to straightaway right, into the Franklin Pierce bullpen, his fourth of the season. The home run meant the end of the day for Gracia, who gave way to Glew, who made sure the Penmen stayed a run behind.

Glew retired the first 11 batters he faced after coming on, before surrendering a one-out single to sophomore catcher Dakota Mulcay in the bottom of the ninth. The Ravens took no chances, as head coach Mike Chambers turned to his ace, Hart, for the final two outs. Hart allowed a one-out single of his own, but got senior right fielder Kevin Alexy to ground out, and then struck out Coro on four pitches to end the ballgame and touch off the celebration out of the first-base dugout. It marked Hart’s first collegiate save.

On the other side, SNHU graduate student right-hander Jake Walkinshaw (7-1) threw 102 pitches, but just 53 strikes, over the first six-plus innings and was tagged with his first loss of the season. He allowed three runs on a season-high eight hits, walked five and struck out three. The eight hits marked the most Walkinshaw has given up in a single appearance in his collegiate career.

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