TAMPA, Fla. – After Bentley University battled back from four down to forge a tie, University of Tampa junior center fielder Richie Rivera (St. Petersburg, Fla.) tripled and scored in the bottom of the eighth and the Spartans, ranked second nationally in Division II, went on to post a 5-4 win in non-conference college baseball Sunday afternoon at the UT Baseball Field.
Bentley sophomore righty Ryan Corriveau (Milton, N.H./Nute HS) got two foul outs to start the eighth before giving up Rivera's three-bagger down the right field line on a 1-2 pitch. Senior designated hitter Danny Lee (Sarasota, Fla.) followed him to the plate and on the very first pitch, put down a successful bunt single, bringing in Rivera with what proved to be the game-winning run.
Bentley, down 3-0 after five, got on the scoreboard in the sixth with a pair of runs. Sophomore left fielder Gino Fordiani (Sudbury, Mass./Lincoln-Sudbury Reg. HS) led off with a single to right, his first career hit, and junior DH Nick Neshe (Waltham, Mass./ Waltham HS) followed with a base hit to left. After a double play erased Neshe but sent Fordiani to third, an infield single by sophomore right fielder Brandon Grover (Rocky Hill, Conn./Rocky Hill HS) allowed Fordiani to score.
Senior shortstop Justin Ashworth (Orange, Conn./Amity Regional HS) singled to put runners on the corners and freshman first baseman Ryan Berardino (Sudbury, Mass./Lincoln Sudbury Reg. HS) followed with a single to left, scoring Grover. Bentley coach Bob DeFelice sent Ashworth home on the play but he was thrown out, keeping the home team in front.
After 3-0 Tampa got one run back in the sixth, Bentley scored twice in the seventh to even things at four apiece. Freshmen Christopher Butler (Danvers, Mass./BB&N)) and Drew Abramson (South Portland, Maine/South Portland HS) drew back-to-back one-out walks, and Butler scored from second on a single to short by Fordiani. Later in the inning, Neshe tied it up with a single to right, forcing the Spartans to go back to the bullpen.
Neshe, Ashworth and Fordiani each had two hits for the Falcons, who were outhit 11-8. For Tampa, Lee was 3-for-5 with two RBI.
Junior righty Cheyne Bickel (Palm Beach, Fla.) earned the win for Tampa after 2.2 innings of perfect relief. Corriveau, who allowed three hits and one run in two innings in his collegiate debut, was charged with the loss.
Bentley, 0-3, will be back in Florida Feb. 17-19 for games against Rollins and Southern Connecticut.