TAMPA, Fla. – Junior right fielder Tom Nagy (Fairfield, Conn./Ludlowe HS), making his Bentley University debut, hit an eighth-inning grand slam and drove in all five runs as the Falcons opened the college baseball season by stunning the University of Tampa, 5-3, Friday night at the UT Baseball Field.
The slam made a winner out of senior right-hander Jeff Croteau (Auburn, Mass./Auburn HS), who pitched the final five innings after Falcon starter J.P. Ashline (Clinton, Mass./Acton-Boxboro Reg. HS), also a senior righty, allowed only one hit in four scoreless innings.
Tampa, 38-10 a year ago, got on board first, picking up single runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Shortstop Jacob Tillotson (Lake City, Fla.) drove in the first with his single to left following a walk and a wild pitch. A single, two stolen bases and a single by Jake Schrader (San Antonio, Fla.) to right center pushed made it a 2-0 game.
Bentley picked up its first run of 2013 in the seventh. Senior second baseman Logan Gillis (Merrimack, N.H./Lawrence Academy) led off with a single to right and Nagy followed with his first career hit, a triple to right center that cut the deficit in half.
The decisive eighth inning began with a lead-off walk to freshman DH Drew Nick (Shelburne, Vt./Champlain Valley Union). Junior center fielder Sean Keady (Norwood, Mass./Norwood HS) beat out a one-out bunt single and junior shortstop Will Brennan (Locust Valley, N.Y./Locust Valley HS) walked to load the bases. Following a strikeout, Nagy cleared the center field fence to put the Falcons, who were on a baseball field for the first time this spring about ten hours earlier, on top 5-2.
Croteau gave up one run in the eighth, but left the bases loaded after getting a fly ball to left for the final out. In the ninth, an error and a walk gave the Spartans two on with two out, but another fly out to left ended the game.
All five runs came off the Tampa bullpen after five innings of two-hit, five-strikeout pitching from right-handed starter Preston Packrall (Tampa, Fla.).
Both teams finished with six hits, with Nagy and Gillis the only ones in the game with two.
The three-game series continues Saturday at 6 pm and concludes Sunday at 2 pm.