When and Where: April 23, 2016 – No. Andover, Mass. (Warrior Diamond)
Score: Southern New Hampshire University 20, Merrimack College 14
Records: SNHU 35-3 (20-1 NE-10, 12-1 NE-10 NE), Merrimack 24-12 (14-5 NE-10, 8-3 NE-10 NE)
Junior Derek Bauer (Millis, Mass.) went 3-for-6 and drove in a career-high six runs to lead the fifth-ranked Southern New Hampshire University baseball team to victory in a 20-14 slugfest against Merrimack College on Saturday at Warrior Diamond.
Southern New Hampshire grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first as junior Zach Goldstein (Merrick, N.Y.) led off with a double to left-center and classmate Manny Cruz (Wolcott, Conn.) immediately followed with a double to right-center.
Merrimack answered in the bottom of the frame on a Sean O'Neill ground out to short that tied it at one before it pushed an unearned run across in the second to take a 2-1 lead on a two-out throwing error.
SNHU wasted no time going back on top as it exploded for six runs in the third inning. Junior Carson Helms (Farmington, Conn.) started it with an RBI single to left before a double steal on what ended up being ball four finished with the Merrimack catcher throwing the ball into left field and allowing two runs to score. Sophomore Matt Rabbito (Chelmsford, Mass.) came through later in the inning with a two-run base knock to right before Cruz drew a two-out walk with the bases loaded to make it 7-2.
Merrimack would score in its third straight inning to begin the game as O'Neill's solo shot to center pulled the Warriors within 7-3.
Grad student Ryan Gendron (Nashua, N.H.) made it a 9-3 game in the top of the fourth when he hit his second home run in as many days with a two-run jack to left. The Penmen then hung a four-spot in the fifth with Bauer driving a run-scoring single to center and then swiping second as part of a double-steal that scored Helms from third to run the lead to 11-3. Another RBI single to left for Rabbito and a run-scoring double to right-center from freshman Joshua Zbierski (Stafford Springs, Conn.) made it a 10-run game at 13-3.
Bauer's single to right with the bases loaded in the sixth plated a pair of runs before Helms, who singled to load the bases before Bauer's hit, scored on a 6-4-3 double play to stretch the lead to 16-3.
Merrimack took advantage of an error to push five across in the sixth to climb within 16-8. The teams then mirrored the sixth in the seventh inning as an RBI double down the left field line from graduate student Mike Mastroberti (Ramsey, N.J.) and another two-run single from Bauer put three on the board for the Penmen before a five-run frame – highlighted by Mike Hoalcraft's three-run triple to right center – climbed the Warriors to within 19-13.
Bauer's RBI groundout in the ninth made it an even 20 for the Penmen, while Mike Forgione's RBI single capped the scoring in the bottom of the inning.
Junior Ben Criscuolo (Branford, Conn.) started for the Penmen and earned the win to improve to 7-0 as he allowed six runs – three earned – on eight hits, while striking out four and walking a pair, in five innings. Senior Ian Searles (Wareham, Mass.) was charged with two runs – one earned – on a hit, as he faced two batters. Freshman Connor Gavin (E. Bridgewater, Mass.) walked one in a scoreless two-thirds of an inning, while sophomore Mitchell Powers (Portland, Maine) walked one in a third of a frame. Sophomore Rob Del Signore (Londonderry, N.H.) relinquished four runs on two hits and a walk as he did not retire a batter. Freshman Dylan Sbordone (Newton, Mass.) worked two-and-two-thirds innings, giving up two runs on six hits, while striking out one. Graduate student Lucas Olen (Bedford, N.H.) set down the only batter he faced to finish off the game.
Bauer finished 3-for-6 with a walk, six RBI and two runs scored. Rabbito (walk, three RBI, two runs) and Helms (RBI, four runs) were both 3-for-5, while Mastroberti (walk, RBI, four runs) and Goldstein (walk, three runs) were also 3-for-6. Cruz was 2-for-5 with a pair of walks, two RBI and two runs.
- At 35-3, the Penmen are off to their best start ever. The 2012 squad that advanced to the Division II College World Series was 32-6 through its first 38 games.
- The 35 victories match the 2013 team for the third most wins in program history.
- The Penmen have won 21 of their last 22, including 17 straight, which extends the longest winning streak in program history.
- Southern New Hampshire is outscoring its opponents, 176-52, during its current 17-game winning streak.
- Mastroberti currently owns the longest hitting streak on the team at 11 games, during which he is 26-for-48 (.542) with 11 extra-base hits, 13 RBI and 14 runs scored, to go with a slash line of .600/.833/1.433.
- Goldstein extends his hitting streak to seven games, during which he has three home runs.
- Bauer has driven in at least one run in six straight games, totaling 16 RBI during that stretch.
- Gendron's home run was his seventh of the year, tying him with Bauer for the team lead.
- Gavin has not allowed a run in 11 innings, spanning 11 appearances, to begin his career.
- Mastroberti leads the Northeast-10 in RBI (44), extra-base hits (27), doubles (13) and triples (12), while ranking in hitting (.360). Cruz paces the league in runs (46) and is fourth in hitting (.368). Bauer is tied for second in home runs (7) and RBI (43). Criscuolo is tied for second in wins (7).
The Penmen are back in action Sunday, April 24 when they take on Merrimack in doubleheader action that begins at noon. The next home game for the Penmen is Wednesday, April 27 (6 p.m.) when they play host to eighth-ranked Franklin Pierce University at Penmen Field.
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