NE-10 FIRST ROUND: Pitching Sets the Tone as #3 Stonehill Defeats #2 Southern N.H., 4-3

Senior Eric Schneider delivered a clutch two-run single in the sixth to put the Skyhawks in front for good.

Rugel strikes out eight batters and allows just two hits over 7.2 innings

MANCHESTER, N.H. (May 5, 2015) – Senior right-hander Armand Rugel (Middletown, Rhode Island/Middletown) struck out eight batters and gave up just one run on two hits over 7.2 innings as third-seeded Stonehill College held on for a 4-3 victory at No. 2 seed Southern New Hampshire University this evening in the first round of the Northeast-10 Conference Baseball Tournament at Penmen Field.

Stonehill (31-11-1, 16-7 NE-10), ranked third in the latest NCAA East Regional Rankings, advances to the NE-10 Tournament double elimination round to be held from Thursday-Saturday at the University of New Haven. The Skyhawks will take on Adelphi University, the fourth seed from the Southwest Division, in the first game on Thursday. Southern New Hampshire (30-12, 16-5 NE-10), ranked No. 18 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Division II Poll and No. 2 in the NCAA East Region Rankings, will likely receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament when the field is announced on Sunday night at 10 p.m.

Senior catcher Eric Schneider (Camarillo, California/Saint Bonaventure) led the Skyhawks at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a triple and a two-run single in the sixth inning. Senior shortstop Dan Fratus (Plymouth, Massachusetts/Plymouth North) walked and hit a solo home run, while sophomore outfielder Ben Monte (New Haven, Connecticut/Guilford) reached base three times on a single and two walks and junior Brian Campbell (Franklin, Massachusetts/Mount Saint Charles Academy) chipped in with a single and a run.

Senior Armand Rugel was dominant with 7.2 strong innings on the mound, scattering two hits and four walks with eight strikeouts and allowing just an earned run.

Junior Patrick Nicholson (Middleboro, Massachusetts/Middleboro) took over for Rugel in the eighth and recorded the final four outs of the contest to earn his second save of the season.

Junior Lorenzo Papa (Stoneham, Massachusetts/Arlington Catholic) paced the Southern New Hampshire offense with a walk, a double and a run, while sophomore Manny Cruz (Wolcott, Connecticut/Wolcott) recorded a sacrifice fly and classmate Zach Goldstein (Merrick, New York/Calhoun) added a walk and a single.

Sophomore Alex Person (Foxboro, Massachusetts/Xaverian) took the loss for the Penmen after giving up two runs on four hits with seven strikeouts and three walks in 5.1 innings.

Both teams had opportunities to jump out to an early lead, but failed to convert with men in scoring position. Goldstein led off the bottom of the first for the Penmen and reached base on a hit by pitch, before stealing second and moving up to third on a groundout. He was stranded there, however, as sophomore Derek Bauer (Millis, Massachusetts/Millis) grounded out to end the inning.

In the top of the second, junior Brian Hocking (Duxbury, Massachusetts/BC High) doubled into the gap in right center field with one out, but Person managed to work out of the situation unscathed. The Skyhawks also threatened in the third, moving a pair of runners into scoring position before a pop out left them stranded on base.

Stonehill stranded two more in the fifth, before finally breaking through for a pair of runs in the sixth. Campbell led off with a single to left field, and Fratus followed with a walk. Following a successful double steal, Schneider plated both baserunners with a single to left field.

The Penmen cut their deficit in half in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Cruz, but Stonehill regained its-two run edge in the top of the eighth as Fratus blasted a towering solo home run over the left field fence. The Skyhawks tacked on another insurance run in the ninth, as Monte came in to score on a passed ball after walking with one out in the inning.

Monte's run would prove to be instrumental, as Southern New Hampshire nearly came all the way back from its three-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth. Senior Alejandro Diaz (Old Bridge, New Jersey/Old Bridge) led off with a single, but was erased at second as Bauer reached on a fielder's choice. After the next better struck out for the second out of the inning, Papa kept the Penmen's hopes alive with a double to left field that put two runners in scoring position. A subsequent fielding error allowed both Papa and Bauer to score and brought the potential game-winning run to the plate, but Nicholson struck out sophomore Cam Oliveira (Tewksbury, Massachusetts/Tewksbury Memorial) to end the contest.

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