CARY, N.C. – Tim Flight (Portsmouth, R.I.) allowed four hits over seven-plus innings of work and Alex Powers (Brewster, Mass.) (pictured left) earned his third save of the NCAA Tournament as Southern New Hampshire University edged Minnesota State-Mankato 3-2 in the first round of the NCAA Division II Baseball Championship. The Penmen (43-13) advance to face West Chester University Monday night at 5:00. The Rams were 4-0 winners over Chico State earlier Saturday. The Mavericks (48-11) will face the Wildcats in an elimination game Monday at 1:00.
Saturday's win was career win number 100 for fourth-year head coach Scott Loiseau.
After allowing two runs in the second, Flight settled down, allowing just one hit the rest of his outing. The first team All-American and Tino Martinez Award finalist struck out nine and allowed just four hits, but did walk five as he improved to 9-1. Powers struck out four in his two innings of relief to pick up his eighth save of the season.
Minnesota State jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second. A Nolan Johnson single up the middle plated Mike Eckhart to get the Mavericks on the board while Jeremy Sudbeck scored when Lucas Skjefte reached on a fielders' choice on a grounder to third.
Southern New Hampshire got on the board in the sixth. The Penmen loaded the bases as Jon Minucci (Madison, Conn.) singled through the left side, followed by a Greg Pezzuto (Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.) walk. After an out, Jamie Wollerman (Hasbrouck Heights, N.J.) walked to load the bases for Bryan Toland (Wildwood, N.J.). Toland hit a groundball to MSU shortstop Connor McCallum, who booted it to allow Minucci to score.
The Penmen took the lead with a pair of runs in the seventh. Kevin Spatkowski (Bristol, Conn.) led off the inning with a single and after Matt Boulter (Wrentham, Mass.) reached on a walk, Andy Lalli (Lakeville, Mass.) reached on a bunt single on his sacrifice attempt. Maverick third baseman Patrick Dockendorf threw the ball away trying to get Lalli, allowing Spatkowski to score and giving the Penmen two runners in scoring position with no out.
Boulter would be the first out as he was erased in a rundown after the Mavericks had Lalli picked off at second, but not before Lalli moved to third. Minucci then lifted a sac fly to left to plate Lalli and give the Penmen their first lead of the afternoon.
Powers entered in the eighth after Flight hit leadoff batter Ben Kincaid and went down 2-0 to Eckhart. Eckhart hit a high chopper over the head of first baseman Riley Palmer (Goffstown, N.H.) to give the Mavericks runners on first and third with no one out. Powers worked his way out of the jam by getting Sudbeck looking and then inducing a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Connor McCallum. He sealed the victory by striking out the side in the ninth.