WALTHAM, Mass. – Down 5-0 with two outs and nobody on in the seventh, Bentley University rallied for six runs, including two with two out in the ninth, for a 6-5 walk-off win over Merrimack College in Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division baseball Wednesday afternoon at DeFelice Field.
Freshman Will Mattern (Orlando, Fla./Lake Highland Prep) scored the winning run on a bases-loaded wild pitch on the third pitch thrown by Merrimack reliever Mike Nolan (Pembroke). That came three batters after Mattern reached on a fielding error on what should have been the game's final out.
Bentley's comeback began with junior center fielder Mike Muir (Bridgewater/Xaverian Bros. HS) singling to left with two outs in the seventh. Senior Nate Witkowski (Melrose/Malden Catholic HS) reached on an error and both scored on a two-run double to deep center by sophomore catcher Bryan Rocha (Rehoboth/Dighton-Rehoboth HS). Junior DH Ryan O'Connor (Newburyport/Newburyport HS) followed with an RBI single to left, making it a 5-3 game.
Bentley (13-10, 5-1 NE-10 NE) got one run closer in the eighth when senior shortstop Will Brennan (Locust Valley, N.Y./Locust Valley HS) followed a triple to left by freshman second baseman Burton Deady (Andover/ Andover HS) with a double to left center.
In the ninth, Witkowski led off with a single up the middle and was moved to second on a sacrifice by Rocha. After a ground out, Mattern's grounder to short was misplayed, keeping the Falcons alive. Senior left fielder Sean Keady (Norwood/Norwood HS) singled to left to bring in Witkowski with the tying run, and Deady also singled to left, loading the bases.
The lefty Nolan, who had a 0.68 ERA in 11 appearances, was brought in from the bullpen to face the left-handed hitting Brennan, but after a ball and a strike, his third pitch was in the dirt and kicked all the way to the backstop, allowing Mattern to score. Both ninth-inning runs were unearned, as were the three in the seventh.
Merrimack (14-13, 2-4 NE-10 NE) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first after stringing together four consecutive hits and added to its lead with three runs in the fourth, the last two unearned.
The Bentley bullpen kept the Warriors off the scoreboard over the final five innings, including 2.2 scoreless innings by freshman Nick Taber (Eastham/Nauset Reg. HS), who survived four hits and two walks. Classmate and former high school teammate Ray Rowell (Wellfleet/Nauset Reg. HS) came in to record the final out in the ninth, stranding a runner on second, and he earned credit for his first career win.
Bentley's 11 hits included two apiece by Keady, Deady and O'Connor. Keady, one hit shy of 200 for his career, extended his hitting streak to 18 games and also ran his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 32.
Merrimack finished with 12 hits, including three from sophomore first baseman Matt Brown (Belmont).
Bentley, 12-3 since Mar. 15, will play a three-game series at St. Michael's this weekend with a single game Friday at 3:30 and a noon doubleheader on Saturday.