TAMPA, Fla. – Sophomore center fielder Max Troiani (Pittsford, N.Y./Pittsford Mendon HS) doubled down the right field line with two outs in the top of the 11th inning, bringing in sophomore third baseman Jake Pierce (East Bridgewater, Mass./East Bridgewater HS) with the go-ahead run, and Bentley University went on to upend the University of Tampa, the second-ranked team in Division II, 7-6 in non-conference college baseball Saturday evening at UT Stadium.
Sophomore righty Greg Johnson (North Reading, Mass./North Reading HS) earned the win with four innings of scoreless relief. He scattered three singles, struck out three and was aided by an 11th-inning double play.
It was a back-and-forth game with Tampa taking the early lead with three runs in the bottom of the first. Coach Bob DeFelice's Falcons tied it with two in the second and one in the fourth, and went ahead with a three-run seventh. Tampa countered with three in the bottom of the eighth and it stayed that way until Troiani's two-out heroics in the 11th.
After the first two Bentley players in the second extra inning were retired, Pierce reached on a throwing error to keep the inning alive. DeFelice challenged the right fielder's arm and Pierce scored.
Junior right fielder Brandon Grover (Rocky Hill, Conn./Rocky Hill HS) was involved in two of the Falcons' first three runs. He doubled and scored on a sacrifice fly by junior DH Austin Farry (Watertown/ Watertown HS) during the two-run second and led off the fourth with a home run to center.
In the seventh, Farry drew a two-out walk and Pierce reached on a dropped third strike that would have ended the inning. Troiani came on as a pinch-hitter and walked to load the bases. Senior second baseman Mike Samko (Arlington/BB&N) made the walks and passed ball hurt as he tripled to right center, clearing the bases.
Johnson came in with the bases loaded and no outs in the eighth, with the Falcons holding a 6-5 lead. He gave up a game-tying single before stranding the bases full with a strikeout and grounder to short.
In addition to Johnson, Bentley received a strong pitching effort from junior righty Llewellyn Jensen (Auburn, Maine/Edward Little HS). He pitched four scoreless innings well, giving up two hits with a walk and a strikeout.
Bentley, outhit 14-6, received two hits apiece by Troiani and Grover.
The two teams will play the rubber game of their three-game series Sunday at 11 am, with the start moved up an out in anticipation of potential weather issues.