Baseball Forces Winner-Take-All Game 2; Falls to Franklin Pierce in Regional Final

Baseball Forces Winner-Take-All Game 2; Falls to Franklin Pierce in Regional Final


When and Where: May 23, 2016 – Rindge, N.H. (Pappas Field)
Game 1 Score:
Southern New Hampshire University 4, Franklin Pierce University 3
Game 2 Score: Franklin Pierce University 6, Southern New Hampshire University 3
Records: SNHU 50-7, Franklin Pierce 48-7

The eighth-ranked Southern New Hampshire University baseball team staved off elimination for the fifth straight game at the NCAA East Regional to force a winner-take-all game two in the final, but fell to third-ranked Franklin Pierce University at Pappas Field on Monday to finish just one game short of a trip to the College World Series in Cary N.C.

The Penmen, seeded second, became the first team ever to capture five straight elimination games in the NCAA East Regional and narrowly miss out on their ultimate goal, despite winning 50 games on the year. Top-seeded Franklin Pierce captures its seventh regional title and first since 2013.

Graduate student Mike Mastroberti (Ramsey, N.J.) handed Southern New Hampshire an early 1-0 lead in the first inning of game one when he took a 1-2 pitch and deposited it over the fence in right for a two-out solo shot.

Franklin Pierce manufactured the tying run in the top of the second as singles from Chris LaVorgna and Max DiTondo and a sacrifice bunt from Matthew O'Herron put a pair in scoring position with one out for Kurtis White, who grounded out to second to push a run across. Senior starter Tim Viehoff (Derry, N.H.) ended the inning with a strikeout to prevent any further damage.

The Ravens went ahead, 2-1, in the fifth when they loaded the bases for East Region Player of the Year Jay Jabs, who jumped ahead in the count, 3-2, before working a two-out walk. That ended the day for Viehoff, as sophomore Jake Walkinshaw (Seymour, Conn.) entered and struck out LaVorgna to end the threat of more.

SNHU answered by scoring three times in the bottom of the frame. Junior Cam Oliveira (Tewksbury, Mass.) led off by reaching on an error, moved to second on a wild pitch and went to third on a sac bunt by sophomore Sean Webster (Boston, Mass.) before being delivered home by classmate Manny Cruz (Wolcott, Conn.), who singled to left-center to tie the game. After Mastroberti was hit by a pitch to load the bases, junior Zach Goldstein (Merrick, N.Y.), who walked before Cruz' base knock, scored on a wild pitch to give the Penmen the lead. Fellow junior Carson Helms (Farmington, Conn.) then followed by hammering a pitch to deep center for a sac fly that plated Cruz with insurance run to make it 4-2.

White slashed the Franklin Pierce deficit in half in the sixth when he took Walkinshaw deep to right-center for a two-out solo home run.

SNHU stranded a pair in scoring position in the bottom of the sixth and the Ravens also left two on in the seventh before seriously threatening in the ninth. With runners at the corners and one out, Walkinshaw fielded a high chopper, checked the runner at third and threw out the batter at first. With first base open, the Penmen intentionally walked LaVorgna to load the bases to pitch to DiTondo. He grounded a 2-2 pitch to junior Derek Bauer (Millis, Mass.), who fielded it and flipped to the covering Walkinshaw for the final out of the game to force a winner-take-all game two.

Viehoff lasted four-and-two-thirds innings, allowing two runs on four hits, while striking out seven and walking three. Walkinshaw (5-0, 1.76 ERA), worked the final four-and-a-third, giving up just one run on four hits to go with four strikeouts and three walks.

Cruz was 2-for-3 with a walk, an RBI and a run, while Webster finished 1-for-2. Mastroberti (RBI, run), Goldstein (run) and Helms (RBI) were all 1-for-3.

In game two, the Ravens took a 2-0 lead in the third after a close call that went their way. With the bases loaded, one out and the Penmen on their third pitcher of the game in junior Ben Criscuolo (Branford, Conn.), Jabs grounded one up the middle that looked to be going into center field, but Cruz made a diving stop, flipped to Mastroberti at second with his glove, but the relay to first was ruled not in time, which allowed the game's first run to score. LaVorgna followed with a run-scoring infield single to third, as Jabs took a big turn at second and was thrown out by Goldstein to end the inning.

Southern New Hampshire put a pair of runs on the board in the fourth as a walk to Mastroberti and an infield single to short from Helms put two on with no one out before Bauer hit a grounder the second baseman could not handle, which allowed Mastroberti to score. Sophomore Matt Rabbito (Chelmsford, Mass.)followed by driving a sac fly out to left-center to knot the game at two.

Stephan Octave's two-out RBI double to right-center put Franklin Pierce back in front in the fourth, but a two-out rally of their own tied the game for the Penmen in the sixth. Rabbito doubled to the fence in left and then scored when freshman Joshua Zbierski (Stafford Springs, Conn.) fought off three straight 0-2 pitches before doubling to right-center to plate the tying run.

The game remained tied until the bottom of the seventh when Maxx Sheehan hit a two-run homer to left to put Franklin Pierce in front, 5-3. The Ravens added an insurance run in the eighth when O'Herron hit a solo home run to left off grad student Lucas Olen (Bedford, N.H.).

The Penmen could not take advantage of a hit in the eighth and then went in order in the ninth to end it.

Sophomore Ivon Clough (Dublin, N.H.) started and worked two hitless innings, striking out three. Freshman Dylan Sbordone (Newton, Mass.) was charged with two runs on two hits and a walk in a third-of-an-inning of work. Criscuolo (8-1, 3.24 ERA) was tagged with the loss, despite giving the Penmen good innings for the second straight day. He allowed three runs on five hits over four-and-two-thirds. Olen relinquished a run on two hits, striking out one in his only inning.

Zbierski was 2-for-4 with an RBI, while Rabbito (RBI, run) and Mastroberti (run) were both 1-for-3. Helms (run), Goldstein and grad student Ryan Gendron (Nashua, N.H.) all finished 1-for-4.

- Southern New Hampshire, which ended the year having won 32 of 36, finished with its best record ever at 50-7, surpassing the 2012 squad that went 43-15 and advanced to the Division II College World Series in Cary, N.C.
- The Penmen were making their fifth straight appearance in the NCAA Championship, as well as the fifth appearance, overall. They are now 15-11 (.577) all-time, including 14-9 (.609) in the East Regional.
-Bauer (1B) Goldstein (3B), Helms (OF) and sophomore Mitchell Powers (Portland, Maine) were selected to the NCAA East Regional All-Championship Team.
- Goldstein finishes the year having hit safely in 25 of 26, while Helms collected a base knock in 19 of 20. Goldstein closes the season with the longest hitting streak on the team at 16 contests, while Helms checks in at 12. Cruz saw his 15-game hit streak end in the second game.
- Cruz has reached base in 37 straight, with Goldstein and Helms finishing with respective 28- and 26-game streaks of the same variety.
- The team, in addition to penning a new wins record, set new single-season marks for runs (494), hits (608), doubles (124), triples (39), home runs (56), RBI (405) and stolen bases (170).
- The following individuals also set new single-season records: Cruz and Goldstein (68 runs), Mastroberti (90 hits, 13 triples), Helms (22 doubles), Gendron (12 home runs), Bauer (67 RBI) and junior Alex Person (Foxboro, Mass.) and sophomore Justin Valdespina (Garfield, N.J.) (10 wins).

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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: #2 Southern New Hampshire 4, #1 Franklin Pierce 3
Game 13: #1 Franklin Pierce 6, #2 Southern New Hampshire 3