MANCHESTER, N.H. – Senior first baseman Ryan O'Connor (Newburyport, Mass./Newburyport HS) had three hits, including a pair of two-run singles, and sophomore righty Nick Taber (Eastham, Mass./Nauset Reg. HS) provided three innings of no-hit relief as Bentley University opened a three-game series with Saint Anselm College with a 5-3 victory in Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division baseball Friday afternoon at Sullivan Park.
The win was the third straight for the Falcons, who used an 11-hit attack to improve to 7-6 in division play and 9-16 overall. Saint Anselm dropped to 11-23 overall and 5-13 NE-10 Northeast.
Saint Anselm got on top first, taking advantage of two hits and two Falcon errors to score a pair of unearned runs in the first. A pair of singles opened the inning, the first run scored on an error and a sacrifice fly by senior right fielder Joe Morin (Salem, N.H.) made it 2-0 before the Hawks' clean-up hitter came to the plate.
Bentley came back to score three runs in the third. Junior shortstop Zacchary Littman (Abington, Mass./Abington HS) singled through the left side, freshman left fielder Nick Neshe (Waltham, Mass./Waltham HS) doubled down the left field line, senior center fielder Mike Muir (Bridgewater, Mass./Xaverian Bros. HS) walked to load the bases and senior right fielder Tom Nagy (Fairfield, Conn./Ludlowe HS) brought in Littman with an infield single.
O'Connor followed with a two-run single to left, bringing in Neshe with the tying run and Muir with the go-ahead run.
The lead was short-lived as consecutive doubles by Morin and senior first baseman Mike Hayden (Cranston, R.I.) to start the Saint Anselm third evened the game at 3-3.
It stayed that way until the seventh when Neshe reached on an infield single and took third on a wild pitch. Nagy, now the owner of a 12-game hitting streak, singled to center and moved up on the throw that kept Neshe on third. That brought up O'Connor and the .345 hitter delivered again, this time with a single up the middle to put the Falcons on top, 5-3.
After starter and winner Connor Root (Nashua, N.H./Nashua HS North) allowed ten hits in his six innings of work, Taber took over on the mound for the Falcons and turned in his best outing of the spring to earn his first career save. He walked two and struck out four, including the side in the eighth. The win was Root's third in four decisions this year and boosted his career mark to 14-6.
In addition to O'Connor's three hits, Bentley got two apiece from Neshe and Nagy.
The two teams will be back at it Saturday with a noon doubleheader at Saint Anselm.