New Hampshire Hardball

Molloy 6, Franklin Pierce 4

UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Five runs in the top of the sixth inning, including three with two outs, turned the tide on Friday afternoon at Mitchel Athletic Complex, on the second day of the NCAA Championship East Regional. The sixth-seeded Franklin Pierce University baseball team staked itself to an early 3-0 lead over No. 20/23 nationally ranked, second seed and host Molloy in the winners’ bracket game, but ultimately suffered a 6-4 defeat.

Franklin Pierce fell to 29-16, and will face elimination at 11 a.m. on Saturday, against seventh-seeded Le Moyne. Molloy improved to 38-12 and will play at 3 p.m. on Saturday, against the winner of the game between Franklin Pierce and Le Moyne. Molloy will have two chances — one Saturday and one Sunday — to advance to the Super Regional with a win.

It was an early 3-0 lead for Franklin Pierce on Friday, as sophomore Hunter Wilichoski (Hamilton, Mass.) clubbed a three-run home run, his sixth of the season, to straightaway left field in the bottom of the first inning. Molloy responded with a run in the top of the second, as sophomore Garrett Scavelli led off with a double down the right-field line and then the Lions brought him around with a pair of groundouts.

The turning point came in the top of the sixth, after senior Vincent Pecora opened the frame with an infield single and graduate student Peter Theodorellis followed with a double down the left-field line. Senior Thomas Brady was next and dumped an RBI single into right field to score the first run, while a one-out single through the left side by Scavelli leveled the game at 3-3. After a strikeout for the second out, things got messy.

Senior Patrick Hoffman hit a chopper to first which could have ended the inning. Sophomore Jose Savinon (Brooklyn, N.Y.) had to move away from the line at first to field, and graduate student left-hander Patrick Hannon (Willington, Conn.) was slow getting started off the mound, which left Hoffman, Savinon and Hannon all in a footrace for the bag. Savinon opted for a headfirst dive to the bag with the ball in his glove, Hoffman went in feet first, and Hannon pulled up and waited for the call from the first-base umpire. Crew chief Rick Cacciatore went with “safe”, which was met by vocal protestations from Savinon, Hannon and the Franklin Pierce dugout, but loaded up the bases with two away nonetheless.

The Ravens came unraveled from there. Sophomore Chris Einemann followed and hit a bouncer toward the middle which should have ended the inning with the game still tied, but the throw of sophomore shortstop Ian Battipaglia (Cheshire, Conn.) pulled sophomore Randy Flores (Brooklyn, N.Y.) off the bag at second, and two runs came around to score without the ball leaving the infield. Senior Bobby Keane was next and shot an RBI single back through the middle to make it 6-3.

The Franklin Pierce offense went into hibernation from there as well, as the Ravens went in order in the sixth and seventh, without so much as putting a ball beyond the infield. After a rain delay in the middle of the eighth, the Ravens showed a little life in the bottom half, as a lead-off double by junior Joel Lara (Boston, Mass.) and an RBI single through the left side by Flores cut the lead to 6-4. However, a line-drive double play off the bat of Battipaglia would end the inning and short-circuit any thoughts of a rally.

Hannon (6-2) threw 105 pitches (76 strikes) over six innings. He was charged with six runs (three earned) on nine hits, did not issue a walk and struck out three.

Graduate student left-hander Mike Andreoli (11-2) went the first seven innings on 95 pitches (65 strikes) for Molloy. He allowed three runs on five hits, also did not issue a walk, and struck out five. Freshman right-hander Connor Huckemeyer recorded the final six outs, including three strikeouts, to chalk up his third save of the season.


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