NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Merrimack College used an 11th-inning run and eight innings of scoreless relief to record a 7-6 win over Bentley University in Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division baseball Tuesday afternoon at the Warrior Diamond.
The game started out in a positive fashion for the Falcons as the visitors opened the scoring with a six-run sixth inning. However, Bentley managed only three more hits the rest of the way while the Warriors rallied to draw even with two runs in the fourth, one in the fifth and three in the sixth.
Both teams received quality performances out of the bullpen. Junior righty Jack Burke (Reading/St. John's Prep HS) pitched four shutout innings for Bentley before giving up the winning run in the 11th. Three Merrimack hurlers worked out of the pen, combining for nine strikeouts in 8.2 innings.
Junior righty Matt DiNello (Southington, Conn.), after allowing two inherited runners to score in the third, retired 13 of the final 14 batters he faced. Junior righty Perry Kulaga (Lincroft, N.J.) followed with three scoreless innings and Nate Spielvogel (Brookline), also a junior right-hander, gained the win after surviving a leadoff double in the 11th.
Bentley's six-run third featured six of the Falcons' 13 hits. Graduate student Ryan O'Connor (Newburyport/Newburyport HS) and senior second baseman Zachary Littman (Abington/Abington HS) had back-to-back RBI singles for the game's first runs, junior shortstop Justin Ashworth (Orange, Conn./ Amity Regional HS) drove in two with a double down the left field line, and freshman left fielder Cameron Cruz (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton HS) delivered a two-run single.
Merrimack (26-17, 10-8 MR-10 Northeast) tied the game up by scoring three times in the sixth, including the tying run on an attempted double steal.
After Bentley left two in scoring position in the top of the 11th, Warrior sophomore right fielder Matt Nicholson (Rockland) opened the bottom half of the frame with a double to left center. Freshman pinch-runner Matthew Ronai (Orange, Conn.) replaced him on the bases, moved to third on a ground out and scored the winner on a bunt single put down by senior catcher Pat Florence (Lowell).
Ashworth, O'Connor, Littman and graduate student Mike Muir (Bridgewater/Xaverian Bros. HS) each had two hits for Bentley with Muir's two giving him 50 for the season. Merrimack totaled 16 hits, including three by senior center fielder Bobby Losano (Peabody).
Bentley (15-24, 6-13 NE-10 Northeast) will finish the season with home games against Assumption Thursday and Friday.