WALTHAM, Mass. – Grad student and right-hander Rob Finneran (Garden City, N.Y./Garden City HS) tied the Bentley University season and career records for wins while pitching the Falcons to a 7-4 win over UMass-Lowell in the first half of a Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division baseball doubleheader Saturday afternoon at DeFelice Field.
The victory clinched a spot in the NE-10 playoffs for the Falcons, but UMass-Lowell came back to take the nightcap, 4-2, to deny the Bentley (number five in the NCAA Division II East Region) the opportunity to have a first-round home game on Tuesday.
Finneran, with a route-going performance, improved to 8-3 on the season, matching the win record set by Jarrod Marchesi in 2008, and 21-8 for his career, equaling the 21 victories registered by Corey Bazylinski from 1996-99. Already the program's career leader in strikeouts, ERA and winning percentage, Finneran has achieved the record win total in just three seasons.
Single runs in four of the first five innings staked Finneran and the Falcons to an early lead. Freshman center fielder Mike Muir (Bridgewater/Xaverian Bros. HS) had an RBI double in the first, sophomore left fielder Sean Keady (Norwood/Norwood HS) delivered a sacrifice fly in the second, junior second baseman Logan Gillis (Merrimack, N.H./Lawrence Academy) doubled and scored on a pair of throwing errors in the third, and senior DH Greg Baggett (East Bridgewater/East Bridgewater HS) had an RBI double in the fifth.
The lead vanished in the sixth as the River Hawks scored their only four runs of the game. A bases-loaded two-run single by senior first baseman Mark Sanborn (Hopkinton) made it 4-2, a single to right by freshman right fielder Jimmy Ricoy (Lowell) reduced the lead to one, and Sanborn scored the tying run on a fielder's choice. An outstanding inning-ending play by Gillis prevented Lowell from scoring the go-ahead run.
Bentley, which had won seven of its previous nine, answered right back in its next at bat, striking for three runs while forcing UMass-Lowell coach Ken Harring to make two pitching changes.
Sophomore shortstop Will Brennan (Locust Valley, N.Y./Locust Valley HS) led off with a double to right center, took third on a ground out and scored when Keady greeted reliever Matt Novak (Hampstead, N.H.) with a double to center. Later in the inning, a two-run single by Baggett made it a 7-4 game.
Finneran, who lowered his ERA to 2.26, returned to form after the four-run inning (only two were earned), retiring eight of the final nine River Hawk batters. Overall, he gave up 10 hits and three walks while striking out two, both looking.
Bentley's 13 hits included three by Brennan and two apiece by Keady, Gillis and Baggett. Seven different Falcons had a double in the game.
UMass-Lowell, which was eliminated from playoff consideration with the game one loss, scored in only two innings during the twinbill, but the River Hawks' four fifth-inning runs in game two proved to be enough for starter Mike Calzetta (Lawrence) and reliever Dallas Nunes (Easton).
With one out, a single by right by sophomore DH Greg Wilson (Medford) and a bunt single by senior catcher Bryan Deuel (Webster, N.Y.) got things started for the visitors. An RBI single by senior center fielder Matt Jacobs (Hudson) plated Wilson to tie the game at 1-1. The inning continued with a walk, a hit batter with the bases loaded to force in the go-ahead run, a wild pitch to score another run and a sacrifice fly by junior first baseman James Katsiroubas (Milton).
Bentley got one run back in the eighth when Muir hit a two-out double to right, took third on a throwing error and scored on a single to third by Gillis,
The Falcons' other run was scored in the first. Keady reached on an infield single, stole second and third and came home on a sacrifice fly from senior DH Kevin Korwek (Madison, Conn./Daniel Hand HS).
Calzetta limited the Falcons to six hits over seven innings before giving way to Nunes for the final two. Junior right-hander Jeff Croteau (Auburn/Auburn HS) went the distance for the Falcons, giving up nine hits and two walks while fanning two.
The split left Bentley at 27-22 overall, 27-13 against the East and 12-8 in the Northeast Division. UMass-Lowell finished the day at 26-19-1 overall, including 9-11 in the NE-10 Northeast.
The two teams will close out the series and the regular season Sunday with a 1 pm game at DeFelice Field.