April 1, 2012

Baseball Edged by #7/16 Southern NH in NE10 Divisional Doubleheader

NORTH ANDOVER, MA- The Merrimack baseball team endured a pair of losses to #7/16 Southern New Hampshire at home Sunday afternoon. The Warriors dropped a 4-2 decision in game one before suffering a 4-1 setback in 15 innings to close out the series.

 Merrimack falls to 11-15 on the year and 0-4 in the Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division. The Penmen improve to 25-2 overall and 4-0 in divisional play.

Alan Pastyrnak (Bristol, CT) and Eddie Newton (North Billerica, MA) led the Warriors' offensive attack with three hits each on the day. Dionys Quezada (Lawrence, MA), Joe Mantoni (Northbridge, MA) and Casey Cotter (North Hampton, NH) all collected a pair of hits in the twinbill.

"I'm proud of the way we battled and competed in both games. Obviously we would have liked to get a win or two, but we hope to use these experiences to benefit us as the season progresses," said head coach Jim Martin. "The league is extremely competitive and if we can keep playing well like we have been, we hope to be in the thick of things at the end."

In the first contest of the afternoon, the visitors struck early with a run in each of the first three innings. Al Stanton landed an RBI single in the first frame to give Southern NH a 1-0 lead.

Jeremy Tejada drove in the Penmen's lone run in the second inning with a sacrifice bunt. In the third inning, Andy Lalli drew a bases-loaded walk to push the away team's lead to 3-0.

Southern NH increased its advantage to four run, 4-0, in the sixth. Brendan O'Brien singled with two outs to plate Tejada from third.

Merrimack made a late charge in the home half of the ninth inning. Cotter reached base safely with one away in the frame as he was hit by a pitch. Mantoni followed with a double down the left field line to score Cotter from first. With two outs in the inning, Quezada laced a double into the left field corner to allow Mantoni to cross the plate.

In his fifth start of the season, southpaw Mike Laracy (Weymouth, MA) tossed 5.2 innings and struck out two batters while scattering eight hits and three earned runs. Beau Batchelor (Beau Batchelor) pitched the final 3.1 innings and recorded two strikeouts.

In game two, the Penmen captured a quick 1-0 edge with a run in the top of the first. Stanton sent a single through the left side of the infield to plate O'Brien from third with no outs in the inning.

The Warriors leveled the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the sixth frame. Mantoni raked a single back up the middle with one out in the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mark O'Flynn (Ipswich, MA). Newton singled to left center to drive in the equalizer.

With the game still knotted at the end of nine innings, the teams went to bonus baseball to finish the weekend series.

The Penmen snapped the 1-1 tie in the top of the 15th as Bryan Toland led off with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After a walk issued to Stanton, Matt Boulter reached base on a throwing error and moved up to third while Stanton and Toland scored. Southern NH added a run later in the inning as Boulter scampered home on a wild pitch.

Merrimack used four pitchers in the marathon nightcap. Joe Carnevale (East Providence, RI) started the contest and went 7.2 innings while racking up eight strikeouts to increase his team-leading total to 38 on the year.

Alek Morency (Nashua, NH) tossed 3.1 scoreless frames while retiring two batters by way of the "K". Brett Julian (Weymouth, MA) pitched three innings and faced the first three batters of the 15th. Connor Elmore (Billerica, MA) closed out the 15th inning with a pair of strikeouts while Quezada ended the frame as he threw out a would-be base-stealer at second.

The Warriors return to action Tuesday, April 3 with a home tilt against local rival UMass Lowell.