Senior shortstop Dan Fratus provided all the offense Stonehill would need with his third inning grand slam.
Skyhawks advance to this weekend's double elimination bracket, will face Adelphi Friday at noon
RINDGE, N.H. (May 7, 2014) – Junior righthander Jim Duff (Garden City, New York/Garden City) tossed a complete game and senior shortstop Dan Fratus (Plymouth, Massachusetts/Plymouth North) blasted a third-inning grand slam to lead third-seeded Stonehill College to an 11-4 victory over second-seeded Franklin Pierce University in first round action of the 2014 Northeast-10 Conference Baseball Championship this afternoon at Pappas Field.
Duff improved to 8-2 with his complete game victory, matching teammate Zack Soulier for the most wins in the NE-10. The first team All-NE-10 selection gave up four runs (two earned) on eight hits while striking out three and walking one.
Fratus went 1-for-4 at the plate, and his grand slam proved to be the difference in the contest. Junior Eric Schneider (Camarillo, California/Saint Bonaventure) was 2-for-4 with two runs and three RBI, and classmate Christian Baglini (Milford, Connecticut/Notre Dame High) added an RBI single. Sophomore Brian Campbell (Franklin, Massachusetts/Mount Saint Charles) got on base twice with a hit and a walk, and he also scored three runs.
Junior Jim Duff earned his eighth win of the season today after going the distance and giving up just two earned runs.
Franklin Pierce, ranked 21st in this week's Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Division II Poll, was led offensively by junior catcher Matt Walsh (Plymouth, Massachusetts/Plymouth North), who went 3-for-4 with three runs. Senior Marty Dunlap (Dorchester, Massachusetts/Western Oklahoma State College) was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI, and junior John Razzino (Cranston, Rhode Island/CC of Rhode Island) chipped in with a hit and a run.
Junior Conor Gleason (North Stonington, Conn./CC of Rhode Island) dropped to 5-2 with the loss after giving up five runs on three hits in six innings of work. Gleason recorded 11 strikeouts, but he issued six costly walks and threw three wild pitches before being chased from the contest. Franklin Pierce's five pitchers registered 17 strikeouts, but they also put 12 runners on base (nine walks, three HBP).
Stonehill wasted no time in getting its offense going, as the Skyhawks manufactured a run in the top of the first to take a 1-0 lead. Senior Billy Karalis (Pawtucket, Rhode Island/Bishop Feehan) led off with a walk, before advancing to third on a groundout by sophomore Chris Hoyt (Walpole, Massachusetts/Xaverian Brothers) followed by a wild pitch. After Campbell struck out for the second out of the inning, Baglini drove in the game's first run with a two-out, RBI single through the left side of the infield.
Franklin Pierce came right back with a run to tie the score in the bottom of the second. Walsh led off with a single to shallow right field, before advancing to third on a pair of groundouts. He then came in to score on the next play, as Hoyt dropped a fly ball in centerfield. The Ravens proceeded to load the bases, before senior outfielder Calvin Graves (Boston, Massachusetts/West Roxbury) grounded out to shortstop to end the threat.
Gleason retired Stonehill's first two batters in the top of the third, but began to struggle with his control and issued three consecutive walks to load the bases. Fratus came up next and delivered his biggest hit of the season, a two-out, opposite-field grand slam over the right center field fence to stake the Skyhawks to a 5-1 lead.
Junior Eric Schneider went 2-for-4 with two runs and three RBI in Stonehill's 11-4 win at Franklin Pierce in the first round of the NE-10 Championship.
After working out of the second-inning jam, Duff began to get into a rhythm. He faced the minimum number of batters in the third, fourth, and fifth innings, picking up two strikeouts in the process. Franklin Pierce responded, however, with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth. Razzino singled with one out, and Walsh beat out an infield single on the next play to put two runners on base. Dunlap followed with a two-run double to the gap in right center field to cut the Ravens' deficit in half.
Stonehill loaded the bases for the second time in the contest in the top of the seventh on a hit, a walk, and a hit by pitch, before junior Doug Willey (Shelburne, New Hampshire/Gorham) came on in relief for Franklin Pierce and gave up a two-run single to Schneider, as the Skyhawks regained their four-run advantage.
After a scoreless eighth, Stonehill broke the game open with four runs in the top of the ninth. Campbell led off the frame with a single, and after stealing second he came around to score on Schneider's second RBI hit of the contest. Three batters later, sophomore outfielder Chris Callahan (Southington, Connecticut/Holy Cross) cleared the bases with a three-run double down the left field line. The Ravens got one run back in their last at-bat, but they would get no closer.
Stonehill's win over Franklin Pierce is the program's first NE-10 Championship victory since May 9th, 2010, when the Skyhawks claimed their third NE-10 title in program history with a 5-4, 10-inning victory over the Ravens at Pappas Field.
With this afternoon's victory, Stonehill (29-18, 17-10 NE-10) advances to this weekend's NE-10 Championship double elimination bracket, hosted by Southern New Hampshire University at Penmen Field in Manchester, N.H. The Skyhawks will take on Adelphi University (22-21, 14-12 NE-10), the fourth seed from the Southwest Division, Friday at noon. Stonehill and Adelphi split a doubleheader on April 5th at Lou Gorman Field in their only two meetings this season. Franklin Pierce (35-16, 20-7 NE-10), ranked first in the latest NCAA DII East Regional rankings, will have to wait until Sunday night to find out its NCAA destination.