LOWELL, Mass. – Senior right-hander Taylor Robinson (Haverhill) went the distance for his fifth win of the year and the top three in the River Hawk lineup combined for 10 hits as UMass-Lowell handed Bentley University a 6-3 loss in the opening game of a Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division series in college baseball action Thursday night at Le Lacheur Park.
The loss, coupled with Franklin Pierce's doubleheader sweep of St. Michael's earlier in the day, knocked Bentley out of first place in the division. The Falcons, now a half-game back of FPU, can still earn the top seed in next week's conference playoffs with wins in the final two games of the series, or one win and a Franklin Pierce loss to Southern New Hampshire on Saturday.
The night started on a positive note for Bentley with the first three batters all singling to load the bases. A double play allowed junior center fielder Sean Keady (Norwood/Norwood HS) to score, but helped Robinson escape without much damage.
The bottom of the first saw UMass-Lowell register four hits off Bentley senior righty JP Ashline (Clinton/Acton-Boxborough Reg. HS), who started the game with a 6-1 record and a 1.92 ERA. Those four led to two runs with sophomore first baseman Jimmy Ricoy (Lowell) tying the game with an RBI single and sophomore second baseman Matt Sanchez (Sunrise, Fla.) putting his team up with an RBI double to left.
The River Hawks matched their first inning output in the second, with RBI singles by freshman right fielder Joe Consolmagno (Worcester) and senior third baseman James Katsiroubas (Milton) making it a 4-1 game.
UMass-Lowell, which needs to sweep the series to have a shot at making the playoffs, twice took four-run leads, 5-1 with a run in the fourth and 6-2 with another in the sixth.
Junior third baseman Nate Witkowski (Melrose/Malden Catholic HS) scored for Bentley in both the sixth and eighth innings. Following a two-out double in the sixth, he was doubled home by junior right fielder Tom Nagy (Fairfield, Conn./Ludlowe HS). Two innings later, he walked, took second on a wild pitch and scored on a two-bagger from freshman DH Bryan Rocha (Rehoboth/Dighton-Rehoboth Reg. HS).
Bentley (26-18, 13-6 Northeast) finished with eight hits, including two apiece from freshman first baseman Evan Mondor (Rehoboth/Dighton-Rehoboth Reg. HS) and senior second baseman Logan Gillis (Merrimack, N.H./Lawrence Academy). Senior catcher Kevin Korwek (Madison, Conn./Daniel Hand HS) was hitless in four at bats with his consecutive game hitting streak halted at 26. He did help out behind the plate, throwing out two potential base-stealers.
UMass-Lowell (28-19, 9-10 Northeast) finished with 16 hits, with Consolmagno leading the way with four. All came in UML scoring innings as he scored twice and drove in two. Katsiroubas and sophomore center Gavin DeGroot (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) each had three hits.
Robinson, 5-3 on the year, walked four and struck out five during his complete game effort.
Game two of the series will be Saturday at 7, and the two teams will close out the regular season Sunday at 3. Both of those will also be played at Le Lacheur Park.