WALTHAM, Mass. – Freshman left fielder Nick Neshe (Waltham/Waltham HS) couldn't have picked a better time for his first career hit as a Bentley University baseball player.
Neshe delivered a two-run single to left in the top of the tenth that broke a 6-6 tie and propelled the Falcons to an 8-7 win over Southern New Hampshire University, the number 22 ranked team in Division II, in Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division action Saturday afternoon at DeFelice Field.
The 10th inning rally begin with a one-out infield single by senior designated hitter Ryan O'Connor (Newburyport/Newburyport HS),a grounder near the second-base bag that the fielder was just able to get a glove on but couldn't control. Sophomore first baseman Justin Ashworth (Orange, Conn./Amity Regional HS) followed with a single to right with O'Connor going to third on the play and Ashworth advancing to second on the throw.
Neshe, hitless in his first eight collegiate at bats, drove a 3-2 pitch to center to bring in both O'Connor and Ashworth.
The two runs proved necessary as Southern New Hampshire got one back in the bottom of the tenth, sophomore shortstop Manny Cruz (Wolcott, Conn.) clearing the left field fence for the third Penmen homer of the day. However, winning pitcher Bill Sullivan (Carver/Carver HS) struck out sophomore center fielder Carson Helms (Farmington, Conn.), who had four RBI, for the game's final out.
Sullivan, who gave up a game-tying home run in the bottom of the eighth, allowed six hits and three runs in his four innings of relief. He walked three and struck out six, two coming with the bases-loaded. Sullivan escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh with a strikeout and left them full again in the eighth, getting out of the inning with a strikeout and a pop up.
The Penmen jumped on the scoreboard first, using a two-run homer to straightaway center field by Helms for a 2-0 lead after one.
Bentley answered right back in the top of the second inning. Junior shortstop Zachary Littman (Abington/Abington HS) singled to center, freshman second baseman Mike Samko (Arlington/BB&N) drew a full-count walk and the two moved up on a sacrifice. Following a strike, a two-out single to right by grad student Kevin Foley (Southbury, Conn./Pomperaug HS), the number nine hitter in Coach Bob DeFelice's lineup, brought in both to even the game at 2-2.
In the fourth, Littman again got the Falcons going as he walked on four pitches. Samko sacrificed him to second and he scored his second run of the game on a single to right by O'Connor, making it 3-2.
Bentley extended its lead to 5-2 in the top of the fifth, picking up a pair of runs. Junior catcher Bryan Rocha (Rehoboth/Dighton-Rehoboth HS) led off with a single, sophomore third baseman Burton Deady (Andover/Andover HS) followed with a walk and Rocha scored on the second single of the afternoon by senior center fielder Mike Muir (Bridgewater/Xaverian Bros. HS).
The Penmen countered with two of their own in the bottom half of the inning, picking up both on a two-out single to left by Helms.
Bentley, 3-10 after its third win of the season over a 2014 NCAA tournament team, picked up an unearned run in the sixth but SNHU came back with single runs in the seventh and eighth to draw even. Grad student Mike Montville (Portsmouth, N.H.), whose father Bob played for the Falcons and DeFelice in the early 70s, had an RBI double to make it 6-5, and a lead-off home run from senior catcher Tyler Fortanascio (Oradell, N.J.) in the eighth evened the score.
Bentley, which faced three pitchers who entered the game with ERAs under 1.30 and a combined 78 strikeouts in 56.2 innings this season, totaled 12 hits. O'Connor had three while Rocha, Muir and Littman each had two.
The two teams are scheduled to meet again Monday afternoon with the site to be determined.