COLCHESTER, Vt. – Bentley University grad student Rob Finneran (Garden City, N.Y./Garden City HS) struck out 11 en route to his 20th career win, the offense pounded out a season-high 20 hits and the defense turned a triple play as the Falcons cruised to a 16-0 game one victory over St. Michael's College in Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division baseball Saturday afternoon at Doc Jacobs Field.
St. Michael's, blanked for the first 23 innings of the three-game series, overcame a 5-0 deficit in the nightcap, rallying for a 6-5 upset of the number five-ranked team in the NCAA Division II East Region.
The split left Bentley at 25-21 overall, 25-12 against East Region teams and in fourth place in the NE-10 Northeast Division standings at 10-7.
Finneran, the reigning Northeast-10 and NCBWA Division II East Region Pitcher of the Week, struck out seven of the first nine batters he faced (the other two walked) and allowed only two singles before exiting the game after six innings. Bentley's all-time leader in winning percentage (.714), strikeouts (227) and ERA (2.84) has struck out 24 and given up only five hits over his last two starts while improving to 7-3 on the year.
His teammates more than supported him offensively with 11 of the 20 hits for extra bases (seven doubles, three triples and a home run). After being kept off the board in the first two innings, the Falcons put up two runs in the third, three in the fourth and fifth, four in the sixth, one in the seventh and three in the eighth on a very chilly afternoon.
Everyone in the lineup had at least one hit with four players enjoying a three-hit game. Senior DH Greg Baggett (East Bridgewater, Mass./East Bridgewater HS) had two triples and a double in four at bats, with three runs scored and two RBI, and senior first baseman Lamarre Rey (Lynn, Mass./Pingree School) drove in runs in three straight innings, finishing 3-for-6 with a triple and two runs scored.
Baggett had four more hits, including his eighth home run of the year, in game two, finishing the day seven-of-eight with five runs scored and three RBI. That raised his batting average 34 points to .308.
Freshman center fielder Mike Muir (Bridgewater, Mass./Xaverian Bros. HS) was three-for-five with three runs scored, two RBI and two doubles, and sophomore shortstop Will Brennan (Locust Valley, N.Y./Locust Valley HS) had nearly identical numbers, with the exception of one less run scored.
The Falcon offensive attack also included two hits, including a two-run homer (number 5 on the season), and two runs scored by right fielder Bryant Johnson (Hopedale, Mass./Milford HS), and three runs scored by sophomore leadoff hitter Sean Keady (Norwood, Mass./Norwood HS), who was on base five times (three hits, two walks).
Freshman righty Connor Root (Nashua, N.H./Nashua HS North) pitched the final three innings for his first career save and gave up three hits. He was aided by the Falcons' first triple play since the 2008 season. After the first two batters against Root reached in the seventh, Rey stabbed a low liner off the bat of freshman second baseman Tyler Robertson (Cheshire, Conn.). With both runners running, he stepped on first for the second out and threw the ball to Brennan for the third.
In game two, Bentley built a 5-0 lead with a bases-loaded walk to Brennan and a sacrifice fly by Witkowski in the second, an RBI single by senior Kevin Korwek (Madison, Conn./Daniel Hand HS) in the third, a Muir sacrifice fly in the fourth and Baggett's eighth home run of the year in the fifth.
St. Michael's (10-27, 3-15 NE) picked up its first run of the series in the sixth inning and rallied to tie the game with four runs in the bottom of the eighth. Sophomore first baseman Alec Tice (Chelmsford, Mass.) and senior catcher Chadwick Estey (New Haven, Vt.) both had RBI doubles and two Falcon errors allowed two other runs to score.
Bentley retired the first two Purple Knights batters in the ninth, but a full-count walk to freshman shortstop Don McGuirl (Warwick, R.I.) ignited the game-winning rally. Tice singled through the left side, with McGuirl moving up 90 feet. Freshman left fielder Nicky Elderton (Shelburne, Vt.)followed with a single through the right side, bringing in McGuirl with the winning run.
In addition to the four hits from Baggett, Korwek and Keady both had two for the Falcons.
Bentley is back in action Tuesday with a 3:30 game at Merrimack.