WALTHAM, Mass. – Southern New Hampshire University built a 6-1 lead, withstood a Falcon rally that cut the advantage to four and locked up the win with three runs in the eighth as the Penmen posted a 9-4 victory over Bentley University in Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division baseball Monday afternoon at DeFelice Field.
Bentley scored three times in the seventh to get within two and had the bases loaded with one out in the eighth before sophomore righty Ben Criscuolo (Branford, Conn.), the last of seven SNHU pitchers, came in for a five-out save.
After Southern New Hampshire, the designated home team, scored twice in the bottom of the second, Bentley got one run back in the third. Senior DH Ryan O'Connor (Newburyport/Newburyport HS) singled up the middle, moved up on a wild pitch and a ground out and scored on a single by junior catcher Bryan Rocha (Rehoboth/Dighton-Rehoboth HS).
The Penmen (14-6, 2-1 NE-10 East) more than answered with three runs in the bottom half of the inning, the first scoring on a home run to right by junior right fielder Ryan Gendron (Nashua, N.H.). Gendron, who had singled and scored in the second, made it a 6-1 game in the fourth, picking up an RBI on a bases-loaded fielder's choice.
Bentley, held to just two hits through six innings, struck for three runs in the seventh to climb back into the game. After sophomore first baseman Justin Ashworth (Orange, Conn./Amity Regional HS) and freshman left fielder Nick Neshe (Waltham/Waltham HS) opened the inning with a single and double, respectively, senior center fielder Mike Muir (Bridgewater/Xaverian Bros. HS) delivered a two-out single up the middle. Later in the inning, Muir made it a two-run game when he scored on a wild pitch.
In the eighth, Bentley (3-11, 1-1 NE-10 NE) loaded the bases with one out with two walks and a hit batter. However, Criscuolo came in to close the door with a line out to center and a pop up to short.
SNHU regained its five-run differential when it struck for three in the bottom of the eighth, the last two on a double to right by grad student Mike Montville (Portsmouth, N.H.).
The Penmen outhit the Falcons 11-6 with the top four in the lineup doing much of the damage, combining for 8 hits in 14 at bats with five runs scored and six RBI, including three by sophomore shortstop Manny Cruz (Wolcott, Conn.).
Criscuolo, who struck out two, saved the game for freshman righty Justin Valdespina (Garfield, N.J.). He pitched the first five innings, giving up two hits, one run and two walks while striking out three.
Bentley received a quality relief performance from sophomore righty Jack Burke (Reading/St. John's Prep). Before giving up three runs (two earned) in the eighth, he retired 11 of the first 12 batters he faced after entering the game with the bases loaded and just one out in the fourth. He struck out four and walked one.
Bentley will be back at home Wednesday for a 3:30 contest with Stonehill College.