RINDGE, N.H. – Junior right-handers Brendan O'Rourke (Shrewsbury, Mass.) and Doug Willey (Shelburne, N.H.) combined for five-and-a-third innings of scoreless relief to lead Franklin Pierce University to a 7-3 win over Bentley University in Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division baseball Monday afternoon at DeFelice Field.
Franklin Pierce, ranked 21st in Division II by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, improved to 35-15 overall and 15-6 in the Northeast Division, good for a share of first place. Bentley finished the regular season tied for third with records of 22-17 overall and 13-8 Northeast.
O'Rourke entered the game with two outs in the fourth and two runners in scoring position after the Falcons scored three times in the inning to tie the game at 3-3. He got out of the inning with a strikeout, the first of six he had before Willy took over for the ninth. O'Rourke improved to 7-2 on the season and limited Bentley to two hits in his four-and-a-third innings of work.
The game remained tied until the bottom of the sixth when the Ravens scored twice. With the bases loaded on two ground ball singles and a walk, sophomore shortstop Justin Brock (Latham, N.Y.), Franklin Pierce's number nine hitter, singled through the left side to break the tie. Senior center fielder Calvin Graves (Boston, Mass.) followed with a ground ball to short. Bentley senior shortstop Will Brennan (Locust Valley, N.Y./Locust Valley HS) made a diving stop but Brock beat his throw to second and FPU's second run of the inning came in from third.
The Ravens added a pair of insurance runs in the seventh. Sophomore first baseman Matthew O'Herron (Springfield, Mass.) had an RBI single and junior catcher Matt Walsh (Plymouth, Mass.) scored on a fielder's choice.
Bentley, down 3-0 after three, did all its scoring in the fourth inning. Senior right fielder Tom Nagy (Fairfield, Conn./Ludlowe HS), who later tied the school record for triples in a season, led off with a hustle double up the middle. Following a strikeout and a dropped pop-up, senior third baseman Nate Witkowski (Melrose, Mass./Malden Catholic HS) got the Falcons on the board with an RBI single to center.
Senior DH Dante Padovani (Lynnfield, Mass./Lynnfield HS) followed with a single through the left side to load the bases, and sophomore catcher Bryan Rocha (Rehoboth, Mass./Dighton-Rehoboth Reg. HS) scored on a fielder's choice hit by freshman first baseman Justin Ashworth (Orange, Conn./ Amity Reg. HS). Franklin Pierce's second error of the inning allowed Padovani to score the tying run.
Bentley's ten hits included three by Nagy, whose triple down the right field line in the fifth was his sixth of the season. That tied the school record set by current assistant coach Mike Hill during his All-America season of 1997.
Brennan and senior center fielder Sean Keady (Norwood, Mass./Norwood HS) each had two hits for the Falcons, but freshman second baseman Burton Deady (Andover, Mass./Andover HS) saw his hitting streak halted at 13.
Franklin Pierce finished with 11 hits, including three by O'Herron, who also had a team-best two RBI for the Ravens.
Bentley will be the number four seed out of the Northeast Division for the conference championships which start Wednesday with the Falcons playing a 6 pm game at top-seeded Southern New Hampshire. The win of that contest will advance to the double-elimination portion of the championships, which begin Friday.