WALTHAM, Mass. – Sophomore first baseman Thomas Joyce (Newton) was 5-for-5 with two doubles, a triple, three runs scored and four RBI as Merrimack College extended its winning streak to six with a 19-14 win over Bentley University in Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division baseball Thursday afternoon at DeFelice Field.
The wild contest included a dozen pitchers, 29 hits, ten extra bases hits, seven hit batters and 13 errors between the two clubs who are both battling for a berth in the upcoming conference championship tournament.
Bentley's offense featured home runs from both graduate catcher Nathan Littman (Abington/ Abington HS) and sophomore first baseman Ryan Berardino (Sudbury/Lincoln-Sudbury Reg. HS), as well as four RBI from senior second baseman Mike Samko (Arlington/BB&N). Samko extended his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 27 games.
After Merrimack took advantage of wildness from Falcon graduate lefty Evan Walsh (Arlington/ Arlington Catholic HS) to score three first-inning runs, Bentley more than countered with seven runs in the top of the second (the Warriors were officially the home team).
The Falcon second included a two-run single by freshman third baseman Charlie Auditore (Walpole/Walpole HS) and a two-run double by Samko.
Two more Bentley runs in the third, both scoring on Samko's two-run single to left, countered Merrimack's two runs in the bottom of the second and made it a 9-5 game.
Merrimack seized control in the middle innings, scoring four in the fourth, three in the sixth and sixth in the seventh to go up 18-9. Joyce had an extra base hit in all three innings with a RBI double in the fourth, an RBI triple that broke a 9-9 tie in the sixth and a two-run double in the seventh.
Littman made it an 18-10 game when his second home run of the spring cleared the center field fence in the eighth. The Falcon ninth included an RBI single by junior right fielder Brandon Grover (Rocky Hill, Conn./Rocky Hill HS) and a three-run homer to left by Berardino, his fifth, before Merrimack brought in ace PJ Browne (Rutland) for the game's final two outs.
In addition to the five hits from Joyce, Merrimack's offense included four RBI from junior left fielder Cory Wasylow (Taunton) and four runs apiece from junior DH Matthew Ronai (Orange, Conn.) and senior right fielder Matt Nicholson (Rockland).
Littman had three of Bentley's 14 hits and the Falcons also received two apiece from sophomore center fielder Max Troiani (Pittsford, N.Y./Pittsford Mendon HS), Grover, Samko and junior right fielder Austin Farry (Watertown/Watertown HS). Both of Troiani's hits were doubles and he kept his streak of consecutive games reaching base alive, pushing it to 22.
Bentley, after suffering its third straight loss, fell to 17-16 overall and 7-7 NE10 Northeast, putting the Falcons a game back of fourth-place Assumption and only a game-and-a-half out of second. Merrimack, which is tied for second with Bentley's next opponent (Franklin Pierce), improved to 21-14 overall and 8-5 division.
The three-game Bentley-Franklin Pierce series will be played on the road, beginning at 3:30 pm Friday afternoon.