MANCHESTER, N.H. – Junior Mendez (Patchogue, N.Y.) fired a complete-game six-hitter and Southern New Hampshire University scored four times in the third en route to a 5-1 win over Franklin Pierce University in the NCAA Division II Baseball Championship East Regional Saturday night at Penmen Field. The Penmen upped their record to 41-13 while the Ravens, who entered the game as the lone unbeaten team in the tournament field, fall to 38-18-1.
Top-seeded Southern New Hampshire advances to Sunday afternoon's 4:00 East Region championship game, where it awaits the winner of Sunday's first game between Franklin Pierce and Le Moyne College at noon. FPU is the tournament's third seed, while the Dolphins are the No. 2 seed. The winner of the East Region title advances to the Division II College World Series in Cary, N.C. that kicks off Saturday, May 26.
Mendez upped his record to 6-2 as he allowed just six hits and struck out two, with Franklin Pierce's lone run coming on a leadoff home run by James Roche in the sixth. For Mendez it marked his team-high fifth complete-game of the season.
Southern New Hampshire knocked Raven starter Kevin McGowan out of the game with four runs in the top of the third. Bryan Toland (Wildwood, N.J.) led off with a single and after Riley Palmer (Goffstown, N.H.) walked, Brendan O'Brien (East Bridgewater, Mass.) singled to center to get Toland home. Kevin Spatkowski (Bristol, Conn.) loaded the bases when he reached on a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt attempt.
FPU skipper Jayson King lifted McGowan for reliever Vladimir Camacho, who surrendered a single to left to Matt Boulter (Wrentham, Mass.) that scored Palmer. O'Brien also scored on the play when left fielder Calvin Graves mishandled the ball. Andy Lalli (Lakeville, Mass.) brought in the fourth run with his single down the left field line that plated Spatkowski.
Southern New Hampshire added an insurance run in the ninth when Spatkowski reached on a two-out double and after moving to third on a wild pitch, scored on Lalli's single that dropped in in left.
Lalli finished 3-5 at the plate with two RBI while Toland also registered a pair of hits.
Camacho worked the final seven innings for Franklin Pierce, allowing seven hits and the ninth inning run with four strikeouts, but also five walks. McGowan was tagged with the loss as he allowed four runs in his two-plus innings.
Southern New Hampshire was also the beneficiary of four double plays on the evening, including one with a first-and-third, one-out situation in the second.
Southern New Hampshire is seeking its first-ever East Region crown, as the Penmen qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time in 2012.