April 3, 2012

Baseball Fends Off Late Rally, Upends UMass Lowell 7-6

NORTH ANDOVER, MA- The Merrimack baseball team captured its first victory in the Northeast Division Tuesday afternoon, topping UMass Lowell 7-6. The win improves the Warriors to 12-15 on the season and 1-4 in the Northeast Division of the Northeast-10 Conference. The River Hawks drop to 14-10-1 overall and 2-3 in divisional play.

Dionys Quezada (Lawrence, MA) keyed Merrimack's offense with three hits, three RBIs and two runs on the day. Mark O'Flynn (Ipswich, MA) and Casey Cotter both added two base knocks in the win.

On the mound, Joe Mantoni (Northbridge, MA) tossed six innings in his team-leading seventh start of the year. The junior picked up the win to improve to 4-1 while striking out a pair of batters. Brian Wolfendale (Methuen, MA) pitched 2.2 innings in his sixth relief appearance while fanning one. Connor Elmore (Billerica, MA) recorded the final out of the game, a fly-out to center, to earn his first collegiate save.

Lowell jumped out to a three-run lead in the first inning. Pat Devlin collected a two-run double down the right field line. Devlin came around to score on a single to center by Jimmy Ricoy.

Merrimack got on the board in the bottom of the second inning to cut the deficit to 3-1. Quezada singled through the left side of the infield. John Pastyrnak (Bristol, CT) followed with a single to give the Warriors a pair of base-runners. Tom Lanzoni (Wallingford, CT) drove in the home team's first run of the game with a single into right field.

The hosts erupted for five runs in the third to claim a 6-3 advantage. Tim Curran (Weymouth, MA) drew a lead-off walk and Cotter followed with a double to left to advance Curran to third. After Mantoni was hit by a pitch to load the bases, O'Flynn laced a single through the right side of the infield to score a pair of runs and tie the contest at 3-3.

With two runners on and no outs in the frame, Quezada stepped up and belted a three-run homer over the fence in left-center to give Merrimack its first lead of the day.

The Warriors added a run in the seventh to expand their edge to four, 7-3. After Cotter and Mantoni were each issued walks to start the inning, O'Flynn bunted trying to advance the runners into scoring position. The throw to first got away from the fielder covering first, allowing Cotter to cross the plate.

The River Hawks mounted a late rally but came up just shy of tying the contest. Jacob O'Keefe landed a one-out double to right and moved to third on a wild pitch. Matt Jacobs plated O'Keefe with a single to left to cut the deficit to three, 7-4.

With two away in the inning, Cam Kneeland homered down the left field line to shrink the margin to one run, 7-6. James Katsiroubas represented the tying run on second as he raked a double down the right field line.

Elmore shut the door with a long fly-out to deep centerfield to cap off the victory.

Merrimack finished the game with 10 hits and no errors while Lowell registered 12 base knocks.

The Warriors return to action with a midweek road-contest at American International April 5.