Baseball Sweeps Molloy, Felician Sunday in North Carolina
MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. – Guided by a pair of five-hit performances from junior Eddie Newton (North Billerica, Mass.) and senior Alan Pastyrnak Jr. (Bristol, Conn.), as well as a pair of impressive starts from junior righty Alek Morency (Nashua, N.H.) and senior southpaw Mike Laracy (Weymouth, Mass.), the Merrimack baseball team opened up the 2013 with a pair of dominant victories, including a 16-2 thrashing of Molloy before an 8-2 toppling of Felician on Sunday afternoon at Big Rock Stadium in Morehead City, N.C.
The Warriors open up the season 2-0, starting off a successful slate with two foundation-building victories. Merrimack will now break for two weeks before hosting Bridgeport for a two-game set on March 2 at Haverhill Stadium.
In the opening contest against Molloy, an 11-run third inning put the Warriors ahead by 12 runs, and that was more than enough for Laracy, who tossed five strong innings while yielding just two hits and one earned run, striking out two and walking two along the way. Junior Travis Terrill (Hudson, N.H.) shut down the Lions (0-4) the rest of the way, posting four innings of three-hit ball highlighted by five strikeouts and just one walk.
Three Warrior hurlers combined to allow just two runs in the afternoon matinee, as Morency picked up the win by means of six scoreless innings, during which he struck out seven and yielded just one free pass.
Merrimack's bats totaled a whopping 17 hits, as the Warriors cruised to a 16-2 win over Molloy to start the season.
Pastyrnak Jr. was the offensive leader for the Navy and Gold, finishing a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate while scoring a side-high four runs, as well. Behind him, senior Joe Mantoni (Northbridge, Mass.) totaled three hits against the Lions, driving in a game-best six runs while bashing two doubles. Finally, sophomore Dionys Quezada (Lawrence, Mass.) bashed a triple for his only hit of the game, scoring once and driving in two as well.
Merrimack edged ahead by a run on an RBI groundout, as Pastyrnak Jr. manufactured a run by singling to lead off the game, moved to second on an error, advanced to third on a passed ball before scoring on the groundout.
After a calm second, the Warriors exploded for 11 runs in the third. Mantoni drove in a pair with the bases juiced before rookie Matt Brown (Belmont, Mass.) drove in another on a base hit for his first career RBI. The next batter, Quezada, tripled in two runs moments later, before a Newton single drove home one more score as the inning continued.
Later in the frame, Pastyrnak Jr. drove in a pair on a single to center during his second at-bat of the inning, and two batters later Mantoni doubled home two more runs before the inning finally wrapped up with 11 runs on eight hits, while Molloy committed three errors, as well.
Molloy would get on the board in the bottom of the fourth only to be answered by three Merrimack runs in the top of the fifth. Ahead by a 14-run margin (15-1), Molloy tacked on its only other run of the game in the bottom of the sixth before the Warriors closed things out with one last run in the top of the ninth.
Merrimack scored the first seven runs of the game, highlighted by a three-spot in the bottom of the third and a two-run bottom of the fifth, as the Warriors completed a two-team, two-game sweep in North Carolina with an 8-2 routing of Felician Sunday afternoon.
Seven different Warriors finished with a hit, led by Newton, who posted a 3-for-5 performance at the plate, while senior Casey Cotter (North Hampton, N.H.) drove home a side-best two RBI for the Warriors.
Meanwhile, Morency tossed six quality innings in his first start of the year, finishing with seven strikeouts and just one walk to lead the Warriors on defense. Behind him, Mantoni totaled 1.2 innings while yielding both Golden Falcon runs, giving way to senior captain Brett Julian (Weymouth, Mass.) who shut down Felician over the remaining 1.1 innings to close the book on the Sunday sweep.
Cotter put the Warriors on the board in the first, as Pastyrnak Jr. crossed the plate on an RBI groundout.
Two innings later, the rookie Brown singled through the right side to score senior Mark O'Flynn (Ipswich, Mass.), and moments later Mantoni would come in on a sacrifice fly off the stick of Quezada. Finally, Newton scored Brown on a base knock through the left side, giving the Warriors a 4-0 cushion after three innings of play.
In the fourth, one more Warrior run crossed thanks to Cotter's RBI single, and in the fifth, Merrimack plated a pair – including an RBI single from sophomore Tom Lanzoni (Wallingford, Conn.) and an eventual unearned run by means of an error.
Down by seven in the top of the eighth, Felician posted its only two runs of the game off Mantoni, but Julian would enter with two outs to close the book on the Golden Hawks. Merrimack added one final run in the bottom of the eighth, as O'Flynn stole third and came in to score on an error by the Felician catcher.
Merrimack returns to action on Saturday, March 2, hosting Bridgeport at Haverhill Stadium for a two-game set beginning at 1 p.m.