WALTHAM, Mass. – With the regular season down to its final week, Merrimack College moved past Bentley University in the battle for a Northeast-10 Conference tournament berth with a 9-3 victory over the Falcons in Northeast Division baseball Tuesday afternoon at DeFelice Field.
Merrimack, 16-16 overall, improved to 8-11 in division play while Bentley, 9-20, slipped to 7-10 in the division. While the Warriors are only percentage points ahead, they also took control of the tie-breaker should the two teams finish tied by virtue of winning the season series 2-1.
Still remaining for the Falcons are a three-game home series against 39-2 Franklin Pierce and a Sunday matinee at Assumption. Merrimack has only a doubleheader with Assumption left.
Merrimack used a 16-hit attack, a costly sixth-inning error that led to five unearned runs, and two double plays to take Tuesday's contest.
In the sixth, after the first two batters were retired easily, Merrimack loaded the bases with a double, walk and single. Senior first baseman Dionys Quezada (Lawrence) popped up to second but the ball fell in allowing two runs to score, making it a 4-1 game. Freshman catcher Ricky Smith (Weymouth) followed with a two-run double and sophomore right fielder Tyler Lyne knocked in another with a double, his third extra base hit of the game.
Bentley got two runs back in the bottom half of the inning, both scoring on a double to right by senior center fielder Mike Muir (Bridgewater/Xaverian Bros. HS), but 6-3 would be as close as the home team would come. Merrimack restored the differential to six runs in the eighth, picking up insurance on an RBI double by Quezada and a sacrifice fly by junior shortstop Frank Crinella (East Longmeadow).
Bentley's first run was scored in the third, cutting the Warrior lead in half, 2-1. Sophomore second baseman Carl Farnham (Bangor, Maine/Bangor HS) singled to right, moved up 90 feet on a walk and scored on a single to left by freshman left fielder Nick Neshe (Waltham/Waltham HS).
Neshe was the only Falcon to have multiple hits, finishing 2-for-4 to raise his average to .273.
Lyne and sophomore second baseman Cam DiSarcina (Shirley) each had four hits for Merrimack, which received a combined three-innings of scoreless three-hit relief from freshman Anthony Lupi (Dover, N.H.) and senior Colin Smith (Somerset).
Bentley will look to snap a four-game slide Friday when it hosts Franklin Pierce, the number one-ranked team in Division II, at 3:30 pm.