When and Where: May 21, 2017 – Manchester, N.H. (Penmen Field)
Score: Southern New Hampshire University 8, Felician University 2
Records: SNHU 43-10, Felician 35-15
The sixth-ranked and top-seeded Southern New Hampshire University baseball team scored eight unanswered runs on the strength of four long-balls, including a go-ahead, two-run shot off the bat of redshirt-sophomore John Stanton (Sandwich, Mass.) in the seventh inning, to defeat fifth-seeded Felician University, 8-2, Sunday evening at SNHU's Penmen Field.to punch its ticket to the NCAA East Regional Championship final.
Felician drew first blood in the bottom of the third inning as Matt Kleinstein led off with a single to left-center, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by J.R. Meneses, advanced to third on Christian Hoplock's base knock through the left side and scored when Bruce Strickland came through with an almost identical hit in the ensuing at bat.
The Golden Falcons doubled their lead in the fourth when Ronnie Grant hit a well-struck ball deep to left off redshirt-junior starter Andrew Lalonde (Bedford, N.H.) for a one-out solo home run that made it 2-0.
Felician was threatening in the sixth with a runner at second and one out when SNHU went to its bullpen for the second time and brought in graduate student Stephen Fortuna (Metuchen, N.J.). Senior Cam Oliveira (Tewksbury, Mass.) immediately took care of his battery-mate as he fired a perfect strike to second base to pick off the runner and clear the bases with two outs. Fortuna induced an inning-ending groundout to keep it a two-run game.
That was key because Southern New Hampshire finally reached Felician starter Jason Polgano in the top of the seventh as redshirt-junior Ryan Sullivan (Hopkinton, Mass.) hit a double to left-center and then scored to tie the game on a two-out double down the right field line by junior Caleb Potter (Mentor, Ohio). The Penmen then delivered the big blow with Stanton crushing a 3-1 pitch to center for a two-run blast that leapfrogged SNHU in front, 3-2.
Fortuna escaped a bases loaded jam in the seventh with a huge strikeout.
Graduate student Zach Goldstein (Merrick, N.Y.) gave the Penmen important breathing room in the eighth with a two-run homer to left-center that scored junior Kyle Pangallo (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), who singled to left in the prior at bat, to widen the advantage to 5-2. Sullivan followed with an absolute bomb to left-center before senior Derek Bauer (Millis, Mass.) walked, stole second and scored when Potter reached on an error to balloon the lead to 7-2.
Senior Cam Oliveira (Tewksbury, Mass.) added the exclamation point with a solo shot to left-center in the ninth.
Lalonde allowed two runs on four hits over five innings, striking out five and walking two. Redshirt-freshman Brendan Welch (Easton, Mass.) gave up a hit in a third of an inning, while Fortuna (5-0) tossed three-and-two-thirds shutout innings, allowing five hits and striking out a batter.
Polgano (6-3), who pitched well through six innings, finished with a line of seven runs – six earned – on eight hits in seven-and-two-thirds innings, while fanning seven and walking three.
Sullivan went 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored, while Goldstein finished 2-for-5 with a pair of RBI and run scored. Stanton was 1-for-3 with a walk, two RBI and a run. Potter (RBI, run), Oliveira (RBI, run), Pangallo (run) and sophomore Kyle Ruth (Albany, N.Y.) were all 1-for-4.
Meneses and Strickland (walk, RBI) were each 2-for-3 for Felician, with Kleinstein going 2-for-4 with a run scored. Hoplock was 1-for-2 with a walk. Grant (RBI, run) and Matt Diesel both finished 1-for-4.
- SNHU bounces back from a tough loss Saturday and has now won 22 of its last 26 contests.
- Southern New Hampshire eliminates Felician from the East Regional for the second straight year after a 20-5 win a season ago. The Penmen are now 3-0 all-time against the Golden Falcons in the NCAA Tournament.
- SNHU improves to 16-2 (.889) at home this season and 59-12 (.831) since the start of the 2014 season.
- The Penmen had scored just one run in their previous 15 innings before posting eight runs in the final three frames.
- The four home runs hit by the Penmen were an NCAA Tournament program record.
- Sullivan's home run was his 12th of the season, which tied the program's single-season record, set last season by Ryan Gendron. Stanton's long-ball was his fourth of the season, as was Goldstein's. Oliveira's home run was his first of the season.
Southern New Hampshire advances to Monday's NCAA East Regional Championship final against St. Thomas Aquinas College, needing to beat the Spartans twice to earn a berth to the College World Series. The first game, barring weather, will begin at 11 a.m. Felician becomes the fifth team eliminated from the regional.
To stay completely up-to-date with the NCAA East Regional, bookmark the Championship Central page at http://snhupenmen.com/sports/bsb/2016-17/NCAAEastRegional.
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