WALTHAM, Mass. – Four different Falcons scored twice and three relief pitchers stranded six inherited runners as Bentley University recorded its second straight win over defending NCAA Division II East Regional champion St. Thomas Aquinas College, 9-5, in non-conference college baseball Monday afternoon at Rollins College's Alfond Stadium.
Bentley, down 2-0 after the Spartans (0-2) scored a pair in the bottom of the first, turned the game around in the fourth inning, picking up four runs. After two singles and a walk loaded the bases, freshman second baseman Mike Samko (Arlington, Mass./BB&N), grad student Kevin Foley (Southbury, Conn./Pomperaug HS) and sophomore DH Chris Volberg (Farmingdale, N.Y./St. Dominic HS) were all plunked in a span of six pitches, each forcing in a run.
Later in the inning, a sacrifice fly by sophomore first baseman Justin Ashworth (Orange, Conn./ Amity Regional HS) brought in Samko with the Falcons' fourth run. Samko was one of the four to score twice and he also had two RBI.
Bentley, 2-6, added three runs to its total in the fifth, an inning launched by the first career home run by senior center fielder Mike Muir (Bridgewater, Mass./Xaverian Bros. HS). Earlier in the game, the Falcons' leading hitter (.355) and 2014 ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove winner had kept his team within two runs when he threw out a Spartan attempting to stretch a double into a triple, his third assist of the season.
The fifth inning also included an RBI single by Foley, which scored Samko, and an RBI double by Volberg. In the sixth, senior right fielder Tom Nagy (Fairfield, Conn./Ludlowe HS) hit a one-out triple and scored on a sacrifice fly by junior shortstop Zachary Littman (Abington, Mass./Abington HS).
The 8-2 lead was cut in half over the next couple innings as St. Thomas Aquinas scored twice in the sixth and once in the seventh. Senior lefty David Long (Brookfield, Conn./Brookfield HS), Bentley's third pitcher of the seventh, came in from the pen with two out and got an inning-ending bouncer back to the mound to strand runners on the corners.
In the eighth, with the bases loaded and only one out, Long was relieved by sophomore lefty Evan Walsh (Arlington, Mass./Arlington Catholic HS). He struck out the first batter he faced and left the bases the way he found them with a grounder to short. Walsh gave up a two-out walk and a single in the ninth before using a game-ending strikeout to notch his first career save.
After Walsh stranded the bases full in the eighth, Bentley picked up an insurance run in the top of the ninth. Littman walked, stole second and scored on Samko's single to right.
Muir and Foley each had two of the Falcons' nine hits, and the Falcons received two RBI apiece from Foley and Volberg, as well as Samko. Scoring twice were the team's three-through six hitters: Muir, Nagy, Littman and Samko.
Senior righty Scott Lueders (Mansfield, Mass./Newton South HS) earned the victory. He pitched into the seventh and allowed eight hits and five runs. Lueders struck out three and didn't allow a walk.
St. Thomas Aquinas totaled 11 hits, including three by junior shortstop Brandon Fischer (East Northport, N.Y.). Senior right-hander Michael Gonzalez (Brooklyn, N.Y.) was charged with the loss after allowing seven runs, six hits and two walks in 4.2 innings.
Bentley will look to complete a sweep of the three-game series when the two clubs face off at 11 am Tuesday morning at Rollins.