April 17, 2012

Mantoni’s Late-Game Heroics Lift Baseball Past Lowell in Extra Innings

NORTH ANDOVER, MA- Junior Joe Mantoni (Northbridge, MA) belted a 10th-inning walk-off homer to left center to give the Merrimack baseball team a 10-8 victory over UMass Lowell Tuesday afternoon at home. The Warriors improve to 17-18 overall and 4-6 in the Northeast Division of the Northeast-10 Conference. The River Hawks sink to 20-14-1 on the year and 4-6 in divisional action.

"I got up in the count and I just made a great swing on a fastball over the middle of the plate and put it out," commented Mantoni on his first homer of the season. "That was a great win for us today, in terms of our standings in the division. This game showed our team's resiliency as we prevailed in the end after they kept tying the game."

Mantoni paced Merrimack with four base hits on the day while adding three RBIs and two runs scored. The junior needed just a single to complete the cycle as he registered two doubles, one triple and a homer. Eddie Newton (North Billerica, MA) collected three base knocks in the game and drove in three RBIs. Alan Pastyrnak (Bristol, CT) and Alex Ciullo (Fall River, MA) each recorded one RBI in the win.

Merrimack struck for the opening score in the bottom of the first inning to grab a 1-0 edge. Tim Curran (Weymouth, MA) laced a base hit down the left field line and advanced to second on a fielding error. After moving to third on a groundout to the right side, Curran scampered home on a triple to right-center by Mantoni with two outs.

Lowell leveled the contest at 1-1 in the top of the second. Jacob O'Keefe drove in Jimmy Ricoy with a single to left field with one out.

The Warriors reclaimed the lead in the home half of the fourth frame, scoring four runs. Newton raked a single to center to plate Mark O'Flynn (Ipswich, MA) from second base. Ciullo landed a single in right with runners on first and second to drive in Newton.

Alan Pastyrnak's bunt single with baserunners on the corners allowed CJ Flannery (Hudson, MA) to slide into home safely. Ciullo trotted home with two outs in the inning as a throw to first on a pick-off attempt got away from the fielder.

The River Hawks knotted the game at 5-5 in the top of the fifth with four runs. Cam Kneeland singled through the left side of the infield to drive in the visitors' first run of the inning. After a walk to load the bases, James Katsiroubas lifted a sacrifice fly to left to score Geoff DeGroot. Ricoy followed with a two-run double to right to tie the contest.

Merrimack seized the lead for the third time on the day as Newton's single to left plated a pair of runners.

Lowell evened the score at 7-7 with tallies in the sixth and seventh inning. Matt Jacobs picked up an RBI with a groundout to the Warriors' second baseman in the sixth and Katsiroubas homered down the left field line in the seventh.

The hosts went ahead 8-7 in the bottom of the eighth frame. Tom Lanzoni (Wallingford, CT) scored the go-ahead run as the first pitch of an intentional walk to Curran sailed over the head of the River Hawks' catcher.

In the top of the ninth, Lowell's Zach Berger launched a solo homer to straight-away center to level the score for the fourth time on the afternoon.

Casey Cotter (North Hampton, MA) collected a one-out single into left field to setup Mantoni's walk-off hit. The junior hammered a 3-1 delivery over the fence in left center to give the Warriors their third-straight win and fourth-consecutive victory at home.

Travis Terrill (Hudson, NH) tossed 4.2 innings in his ninth start of the year. Connor Elmore (Billerica, MA) scattered two hits in two innings of relief action. Brett Julian (Weymouth, MA) allowed no runs and just one base hit in 1.1 innings of work. Beau Batchelor (Peabody, MA) earned his first collegiate victory on the hill, hurling the final two innings and surrendering two hits and one run.

The two squads combined for 29 hits and Merrimack picked up 15 and Lowell landed 14 in the slugfest.

Up next, the Warriors will look to extend its winning-streak to four as they visit Assumption Wednesday, April 18 for a non-divisional tilt.