WALTHAM, Mass. – Bentley University junior left-hander Ryan O'Connor (Newburyport/ Newburyport HS) pitched the team's first no-hitter in 42 years Saturday afternoon as the Falcons topped Saint Anselm College, 5-0, in the first half of a Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division baseball doubleheader at DeFelice Field.
The division-leading Falcons completed the sweep by taking the nightcap, 8-6, with the victory Bentley's sixth straight, 12th in the last 14 games and 17th in 20 games since Mar. 15. Coach DeFelice's team improved to 18-10 overall and 10-1 in the Northeast, good for a three-game lead in the loss column over nationally-ranked Southern New Hampshire.
O'Connor, now 5-2 with a 1.50 ERA, needed only 107 pitches in the complete game masterpiece. He walked three, including the first two batters of the game, and struck out five. He retired 26 of the final 27 batters he faced with the only runner during that span retired when he threw a double-play ball on the very next pitch.
The no-hitter was Bentley's first since Len White threw one against Stonehill Apr. 28, 1972, and the shutout was O'Connor's third of the season. Over his last five starts, O'Connor is 5-0 with a microscopic 0.67 ERA.
Bentley gave O'Connor the only run he would need in the fourth when senior shortstop Will Brennan (Locust Valley, N.Y./Locust Valley HS) tripled to right and scored on an infield single by senior right fielder Tom Nagy (Fairfield, Conn./Ludlowe HS).
The Falcons opened the game up with four runs in the seventh. Senior DH Dante Padovani (Lynnfield/Lynnfield HS), freshman first baseman Justin Ashworth (Orange, Conn./Amity Reg. HS), senior left fielder Sean Keady (Norwood/Norwood HS) and freshman second baseman Burton Deady (Andover/Andover HS) all had RBI singles in the inning.
Game two saw Bentley jump on top early with another four-run inning, this time in the bottom of the first. Keady singled and scored on an error, Nagy tripled in a pair and he scored on a ground out by junior center fielder Mike Muir (Bridgewater/Xaverian Bros. HS).
Deady had an RBI single in the second, Padovani scored on a bases-loaded wild pitch in the third after reaching on a single, and Nagy hit his fifth home run of the season in the fourth as Bentley extended its advantage to 7-2.
The Falcons picked up an insurance run in the eighth, making it an 8-3 game. Muir walked and scored on Padovani's fourth hit of the afternoon.
That run proved to be important as Saint Anselm (12-25, 4-10 Northeast) struck for three in the top of the ninth and had the potential tying run at bat before freshman lefty Ray Rowell (Wellfleet/ Nauset Reg. HS) got a game-ending ground out.
Junior righty Connor Root (Nashua, N.H./Nashua HS North) earned the win for the Falcons, his fifth in sixth decisions, and struck out a career-high 11, with just one walk, in his six innings of work. Rowell pitched the final three to earn his fourth save of the season.
Bentley totaled 24 hits in the doubleheader, including five by Nagy. Three of those came in game two when he came within a double of the cycle. Padovani had four hits on the day, and Keady, Ashworth and Deady had three apiece.
The two teams will complete the three-game series with a 1:00 game Monday at DeFelice Field.