RINDGE, N.H. – From the first time since 2013, the Merrimack College baseball program advanced past the opening round of the Northeast-10 Conference Championship when the third-seeded Warriors upset second-seeded Franklin Pierce, 5-3, in 11 innings on Tuesday night at Pappas Field. Graduate student Tyler Lyne hit an eighth-inning homer that forced extra innings, junior Anthony Garbarino hit a two-out two-run double to put Merrimack in front and senior Anthony Lupi came on in the bottom of the 11th to close out the win. The Navy and Gold will now compete in the double-elimination portion of the NE10 Championship, and face top-seeded Le Moyne out of the Southwest Division on Thursday at 12 p.m. at Penmen Baseball Stadium on the campus of Southern New Hampshire.
Score (11 innings): Merrimack 5, Franklin Pierce 3
Records: Merrimack (27-18) | Franklin Pierce (32-13-1)
Location: Dr. Arthur & Martha Pappas Field | Rindge, N.H.
2018 NE10 Baseball Championship Schedule
Tuesday, May 8 – First Round (single elimination)
Game 1: #1 SW Le Moyne def. #4 SW Pace | 7-3
Game 2: #2 SW New Haven def. #3 SW Adelphi | 3-2
Game 3: #1 NE SNHU def. #4 NE Bentley | 3-2
Game 4: #3 NE Merrimack def. #2 NE Franklin Pierce | 5-3
Thursday, May 10
Game 5: #1 SW Le Moyne vs. #3 NE Merrimack | 12 p.m.
Game 6: #2 SW New Haven vs. #1 NE SNHU | 3:00 p.m.
Friday, May 11
Game 7: Game 5 loser vs. Game 6 loser
Game 8: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner
Game 9: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 loser
Saturday, May 12
Game 10: Game 9 winner vs. Game 8 winner
Game 11: If necessary.
- Neither team scored through 2.5 innings. Senior starter PJ Browne got out of an early jam in the top of the first to keep things scoreless, while Merrimack’s offense put runners in scoring position in the second and third frames, but did not score
- Browne’s defense bailed him out in the bottom of the third. After a leadoff double and a walk put two runners on with no outs, sophomore Thomas Joyce made a full-extension diving snag of a popped up bunt. The first baseman then got to his feet, and fired a strike to second base to double up the lead runner. Browne then struck out the next batter on three pitches to keep the game scoreless through three innings
- After a quiet fourth and fifth, Merrimack broke the scoring open in the top of the sixth. Lyne hit a leadoff single and hustled into third on a chopper to the left side to move within 90 feet of scoring with one out. Senior Matt Nicholson drove him with a towering sacrifice fly to make it a 1-0 game. Joyce followed with a two-out single to bring senior Mike Hoalcraft to plate. The left fielder hit a bloop single into right center, saw the ball take a high hop off the turf and Franklin Pierce’s right fielder bobble the ball which allowed Joyce to race past third and slide in safely. The Navy and Gold took a 2-0 advantage to the bottom half
- Franklin Pierce immediately responded in its turn. After a double and a single put runners on the corners, the Ravens scored on a RBI fielder’s choice, eliminating the middle runner at second. The hosts then loaded the bases, and with two outs, hit a two-run base hit to snag a 3-2 lead
- The Warriors did not go away. Leading off the eighth, Lyne took the first pitch he saw and deposited it over the fence in center field to tie the game at 3-3
- Redshirt-junior Garrett Hudson kept Merrimack in the game, relieving Browne to start the eighth and throwing into the 11th inning. Hudson escaped a jam in the 10th inning that saw a pair of Ravens reach to start the frame. The hard-throwing righty proceeded to get the next three batters out, including a inning-ending chopper to shortstop that stranded the potential game-winning run at third
- Merrimack broke through in the 11th after Nicholson hit a leadoff triple. A groundout kept Nicholson at third, while a hit batsman and a sacrifice bunt put two runners in scoring position with two outs for Garbarino. The second baseman took a 1-1 fastball and drove it over the right fielder’s head to plate two, giving the visitors a two-run lead (5-3)
- Lupi took over for Hudson in the 11th after the leadoff hitter reached. A single put two Ravens on base, but Merrimack’s senior captain buckled down. The southpaw recorded outs on a sacrifice bunt, a shallow pop up to the shortstop and a grounder to sophomore Nick Shumski that sent Merrimack on to the league’s double-elimination tournament
- WP: Hudson (3-0) | LP: Covelle (6-3) | S: Lupi (1)
- Browne’s Final Line (ND): 7.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 6 K, 2 BB
- Lyne’s day included a team-high three hits including his second homer in his last three games. The fifth-year outfielder scored two of Merrimack’s five runs. The Agawam, Mass. native also swiped his league-leading 27th base of the year, which moved him within one of tying Frank Crinella for the most by a Warrior in the last two decades
- Joyce and senior Ricky Smith joining Lyne with multi-hit days, totaling two hits each
- Garbarino was 0-for-4 prior to his game-winning at-bat in the top of the 11th. It marked his second double of the year and just the second extra-base hit of his career
- Hudson threw three scoreless innings of relief to pick up his third win of the season, finishing the night with four strikeouts. Lupi notched the first save of his career, making his 39th career appearance
Notes and Notables:
- Tuesday’s win snapped a four-game losing streak in the NE10 Championship and marked the program’s first since a win over New Haven in 2013 that forced a winner-take-all NE10 Final on the last day of NE10 Championship weekend five years ago
- The Warriors are now 26-24 all-time in the NE10 Championship, owning the second most wins among current NE10 members
- Lyne enters Thursday with 197 career hits, and is within three of becoming the sixth player in school history with 200 career hits
- Tuesday’s triumph was also the first in Rindge since a regular season victory in 2014, snapping a nine-game losing streak at Pappas Field
Merrimack faces Le Moyne on Thursday at 12 p.m. hosted on the campus of Southern New Hampshire. Depending on the result, the Warriors will either play an elimination game on Friday at 11 a.m. or play in the winner’s bracket on Friday afternoon at 2 p.m.