RINDGE, N.H. - The Saint Michael's College baseball team brought the tying run to the plate during the ninth inning of both games at regionally-ranked Franklin Pierce University before being swept, 6-4 and 6-3, on Thursday at Pappas Field. The Purple Knights, who played the home team in both games, are 9-31 overall and 4-18 in the Northeast-10 Conference, with 15 losses coming by three runs or less. The Ravens, who improved to 31-12-1 and 20-6, are fifth in this week's NCAA East Region poll. The teams complete the three-game series tomorrow with a 12 p.m. contest, which would be the Purple and Gold's program-record-tying 41st game of the spring.
In the opener, junior Trevor Allen (Dennis, Mass./Dennis-Yarmouth Regional) finished 3-for-4 with a run, first-year Holden Jackman (Eliot, Maine/Marshwood) was 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI, and classmate Danté Moran (Saint Petersburg, Fla./Dixie Hollins) batted 2-for-5 with an RBI. First-year Zach Rodgers (Parrish, Fla./Manatee) took the loss after allowing all six runs, with four earned, on seven hits in five innings. He walked five and struck out five, finishing the year with 44 strikeouts, tying Austin Ziskie's '09 program first-year mark. Scott Racicot '72 holds the rookie record of 45 but accomplished the feat as a sophomore in 1970. Junior Christian Devine (Exeter, N.H./Exeter) worked four innings of two-hit, shutout baseball, neither walking nor fanning a hitter.
Junior Brad Roberto batted 3-for-5 with a run, two RBIs and two doubles for the Ravens, senior Adam Chase finished 2-for-3 with a run, a walk and two doubles, while classmate Stephen Octave was 2-for-4 with a run, two RBIs and a home run. Junior Zach Hart yielded all four runs - two earned - on seven hits in six frames with 10 strikeouts and a walk before sophomore Derek Duffy worked the three-inning save, allowing no runs on two hits.
Roberto knocked an RBI double and stole home in the third, but Moran's two-out RBI single plated first-year Joe Webber (Marshfield, Mass./Bridgton Academy) to make it 2-1 in the home half. Roberto hit another RBI double in the fourth but was cut down trying to stretch it to a triple on an 8-4-5 relay, started by junior center fielder Joe Robertson (Essex Junction, Vt./Essex).
Franklin Pierce tacked on three runs in the fifth when senior John Friday led off with a home run and Octave added his two-run shot with two down. Saint Michael's trimmed its deficit back to two runs with three in the sixth, as Jackman roped an RBI single before a second run scored on an error, and first-year Iset Maldonado (Brooklyn, N.Y./Saint Francis Prep) produced an RBI groundout. The Purple Knights brought the tying run to the plate four times before the end of the game. Jackman singled with two out in the eighth before the final batter struck out, and first-year Anthony Azpeitia (Tampa, Fla./King) singled leading off the ninth but moved no further than second base.
Azpeitia was 1-for-3 with a walk in the nightcap, and Webber walked once, scored twice and stole a base. With a steal in each end of the doubleheader, Webber has 15 for the season, the second-most in program history behind only Brian Rayder '93, who swiped 18 bags in 1992. Redshirt first-year Paul Prue (Dennis, Mass./Nauset Regional/Wheaton [Mass.]) took the loss after allowing five runs on nine hits in five innings. Junior Drew Farris (Andover, Mass./Saint John's Prep) and first-year Cameron Cuellar (Seminole, Fla./Seminole) followed with a pair of innings apiece, as neither allowed an earned run. Farris, as with Devine in game one, made his 13th appearance of the year, with both tying for second in program history but also matching the mark from the program's NE10 era.
Friday was 3-for-5 with a run, an RBI and a double, Roberto went 2-for-4 with three runs and a double, and senior Ryan Covelle earned the win after allowing one unearned run on three hits in 6.2 innings. He struck out eight and walked two. Graduate student Sam Steeves worked the five-out save, allowing no runs on two hits.
The teams traded first-inning runs, with Friday coming up with an RBI single before Webber stole third and scored on an error in the bottom half. Franklin Pierce scored the next four runs between the third and fifth innings, with four different players driving one in. In the eighth, Allen hit an infield grounder with two down that was thrown away, allowing Webber and Moran to score and cut the deficit to 5-3. However, graduate student Mike Coggeshall singled in an insurance run in the ninth. In the bottom half, Azpeitia singled with one down and Jackman came off the bench to knock a two-out single, but the final batter flew out to left field.
During the twinbill, the Purple Knights set a program record for pitching strikeouts in a season (228), eclipsing the old mark (226) set in 2012. Allen and Moran both increased their hit totals to 43 this season, just two short of the program's NE10-era mark of 45 shared by Dan Kiniry '94 (1994) and Alec Tice '14 (2013). Moran is also within one hit of Adam Sargent's '97 overall rookie record. Shortstop Maldonado became the second Purple Knight to pass the 100-assist plateau in a season, with his 107 trailing only Don McGuirl's '15 2013 record of 122.