When and Where: May 22, 2016 – Rindge, N.H. (Pappas Field)
Game 1 Score: Southern New Hampshire University 5, University of Bridgeport 2
Game 2 Score: Southern New Hampshire University 10, Saint Thomas Aquinas College 4
Records: SNHU 49-6, Bridgeport 28-24-1, Saint Thomas Aquinas 37-17
Sophomore Mitchell Powers (Portland, Maine) turned in a gutsy pitching performance out of the bullpen and seven different Penmen knocked in a run as the eighth-ranked Southern New Hampshire University baseball team was victorious in two more NCAA East Regional elimination games at Franklin Pierce University's Pappas Field on Sunday to punch its ticket to Monday's final. SNHU scored five unanswered runs to post a 5-2 win against Bridgeport University in the first game before defeating Saint Thomas Aquinas College, 10-4, in the loser's bracket semifinal.
The Penmen, seeded second, have won four consecutive elimination games to reach the final, where they will need to beat top-seeded Franklin Pierce two times to earn the East Region championship and a trip to the Division II College World Series in Cary, N.C. Fifth-seeded Bridgeport and third-seeded Saint Thomas Aquinas see their seasons come to a close following their first and fourth NCAA Championship appearances, respectively.
Southern New Hampshire wasted no time jumping on the board against Saint Thomas Aquinas as junior Zach Goldstein (Merrick, N.Y.) led off with a ground-rule double to left-center and scored on a single by classmate Manny Cruz (Wolcott, Conn.) after the left fielder booted the ball. Graduate student Mike Mastroberti (Ramsey, N.J.) followed with a double down the left field line to put a pair in scoring position before junior Carson Helms (Farmington, Conn.) duplicated the feat to knock in a pair of runs and make it 3-0 in favor of Southern New Hampshire.
The Spartans responded with a pair in the bottom of the inning. Senior Joe McCarthy (Nashua, N.H.) started and issued a walk and allowed a hit before being pulled after throwing just 12 pitches. Powers entered, inheriting a 2-0 count, and allowed a walk to load the bases. Nicholas Gargan followed with a single to right-center that scored a pair, but he was thrown out at second, leaving a runner at third with one out. Powers came back with consecutive punch outs to get out of the inning with minimal damage and the Penmen holding onto a 3-2 edge.
SNHU added an insurance run in the fourth as grad student Ryan Gendron (Nashua, N.H.) and sophomore Matt Rabbito (Chelmsford, Mass.) started the inning with singles and moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch before sophomore Sean Webster (Boston, Mass.) lined a ball to center that the center fielder made a diving catch on, but scored Rabbito to nudge the lead to 4-2.
Saint Thomas Aquinas answered the run in the bottom of the inning when Gargan took Powers deep to right for a solo shot that cut the deficit to 4-3. The Spartans had a pair in scoring position later in the inning when the Penmen made it out of trouble with a routine groundout to Mastroberti, who had made a spectacular diving play at second to take a ball out of right field and a run off the board in the at-bat prior.
Southern New Hampshire went up, 6-3, in the fifth as Mastroberti and junior Derek Bauer (Millis, Mass.) scored on two-out wild pitches and passed balls, respectively, after the Penmen had loaded the bases with one out.
The Penmen tacked on another in the sixth when Goldstein swiped second, but the throw slipped into center field, allowing Webster to come home. SNHU then ballooned the lead to 9-3 in the seventh when Gendron led off with a double into the left field corner and scored on an RBI single by Rabbito, who then kept on running all the way home when the ball went 5-hole on the charging center fielder and rolled all the way to the fence.
STAC grabbed one back in the bottom half when Brandon Fischer drew a two-out walk, went to third on a Joseph Pena single and scored on a wild pitch. The Penmen offset it in the eighth, however, on an RBI double by Cruz.
Powers (1-0, 1.12 ERA) recorded all 27 outs as he went nine innings and allowed two runs on seven hits, while striking out nine and walking three, to advance the Penmen just one step (or two) shy of Cary.
Gendron was 3-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored, while Goldstein went 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs. Helms (two RBI), Cruz (RBI, run) and Rabbito (RBI, run) were all 2-for-5.
In the first game, Bridgeport grabbed an early 2-0 advantage in the bottom of the second when Bobby Schryver took junior starter Ben Criscuolo (Branford, Conn.) deep to right-center for a two-out, two-run blast.
SNHU immediately responded in the top of the third when Goldstein hit a ground-rule double to right-center and scored on a single through the left side from Mastroberti, who then advanced to third and scored on a pair of wild pitch pitches.
The game remain tied at two until the eighth inning when singles from Cruz and Mastroberti set up a two-run double to left-center by Bauer that snapped the deadlock. Gendron followed with a double down the left field line that plated Bauer and ran the score to 5-2.
Sophomore Jake Walkinshaw (Seymour, Conn.), who kept Bridgeport at bay in the seventh and eighth innings, finished off the Purple Knights in the ninth,
Criscuolo allowed two runs on five hits, while striking out two and walking two, over six-plus innings. Walkinshaw (4-0) tossed three perfect frames and struck out a trio of Purple Knights.
Mastroberti went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored, while Bauer was 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI and a run. Goldstein was 2-for-5 with a run, with Gendron going 1-for-3 and knocking in a run.
- Southern New Hampshire, which has won 31 of 34, is on pace for its best record ever at 49-6. The 2012 squad that advanced to the Division II College World Series in Cary, N.C., was 42-13 through its first 55 games.
- The Penmen are making their fifth straight appearance in the NCAA Championship, as well as the fifth appearance, overall. They are now 14-10 (.583) all-time, including 13-8 (.619) in the East Regional.
- SNHU is the first team to lose its first game of the NCAA East Regional and then reach the final since Saint Thomas Aquinas lost its opener and won the title in 2014.
- The Penmen are most likely the first team ever to single-handedly eliminate four teams from the NCAA East Regional. Wilmington (Del.) University in 2013 is the most recent squad to knock three teams out.
- The four-game winning streak is the longest ever for Southern New Hampshire during the NCAA postseason. The Penmen won three straight during the 2012 East Regional.
- Since being shut out for the first time in 74 games by Dowling College on Thursday, SNHU has scored double-digit runs in three of its last four, outscoring its opponents, 46-16, during that stretch.
- Southern New Hampshire is now 25-0 this season when scoring nine or more runs and 22-0 when holding opponents to two runs or fewer.
- Powers, whose previous career-long outing was three-and-a-third innings, went all nine innings, which is the longest outing in NCAA Championship program history. His nine strikeouts are a career high and the most ever for a Penmen in an NCAA Championship contest. In three appearances during the regional, Powers is 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA as he has allowed two runs on eight hits, while striking out 12 and walking five, in 11-and-a-third innings.
- Since snapping an 0-for-11 skid Friday, Gendron has gone 10-for-15 and been on base 13 times in 17 plate appearances.
- Goldstein has hit safely in 23 of 24, while Cruz and Helms have both collected a base knock in 17 of 18. Goldstein and Cruz are tied for the longest hitting streak on the team at 14 contests, while Helms checks in at 10.
- Cruz has reached base in 35 straight, with Goldstein and Helms holding respective 26- and 24-game streaks of the same variety.
The Penmen return to action Monday, May 23 (12 p.m.) in the NCAA East Regional final against Franklin Pierce. The second game would follow 45 minutes after the final out of game one.
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Thursday, May 19
Game 1: #4 Felician 3, #5 Bridgeport 0
Game 2: #7 Dowling 4, #2 Southern New Hampshire 0
Friday, May 20
Game 3: #3 Saint Thomas Aquinas 5, #6 Molloy 2
Game 4: #2 Southern New Hampshire 11, #6 Molloy 5 (Molloy eliminated)
Game 5: #1 Franklin Pierce 18, #4 Felician 0
Game 6: #3 Saint Thomas Aquinas 4, #7 Dowling 0
Saturday, May 21
Game 7: #2 Southern New Hampshire 20, #4 Felician 5 (Felician eliminated)
Game 8: #5 Bridgeport 7, #7 Dowling 6 (Dowling eliminated)
Game 9: #1 Franklin Pierce 12, #3 Saint Thomas Aquinas 8
Sunday, May 22
Game 10: #2 Southern New Hampshire 5, #5 Bridgeport 2 (Bridgeport eliminated)
Game 11: #2 Southern New Hampshire 10, #3 Saint Thomas Aquinas 4 (Saint Thomas Aquinas eliminated)
Monday, May 23
Game 12: #1 Franklin Pierce vs. #2 Southern New Hampshire – Noon
Game 13: Game 12 rematch* – 45 minutes after conclusion of Game 12
* Game 13 only necessary if Game 11 Winner wins Game 12