#15 SNHU walks off against Merrimack in first game of pivotal final series

Photo: Merrimack Athletics

HOOKSETT, N.H.  – The Merrimack College baseball program held a 7-5 lead on Thursday evening over No. 15 Southern New Hampshire from the SNHU Baseball Field entering the bottom of the ninth, but the hosts were able to take advantage of an error that prolonged the final frame and won in walk-off fashion, 7-5, to take a one-game lead over Merrimack in the Northeast Division.

The Warriors and Penmen entered the contest tied atop the Northeast Division with matching 14-4 records; Merrimack will now need to sweep Saturday’s doubleheader against the Penmen to win its first Northeast Division title ever and first Northeast-10 Conference Regular Season Championship since 1999. The Warriors need to win just one game to clinch the rights to host Tuesday’s opening round game of the NE10 Championship.

The Basics
#15 SNHU 8, Merrimack 7
Records: Merrimack (25-16, 14-5 NE Div.)
 | #15 SNHU (34-11, 15-4 NE Div.)
Location: SNHU Baseball Field | Hooksett, N.H.

Rapid Recap

  • After two scoreless innings, junior Joey Porricelli left Penmen Field with a homer to left to stake Merrimack to a 1-0 advantage. In the bottom half, sophomore Vin Zappulla nearly worked around a leadoff double, but a two-out base hit plated the Penmen’s first run and tied the game
  • The Warriors bats went back to work in the top of the fourth, scoring their first run of the frame after senior Matthew Ronai hit the third single of inning to score junior Thomas Joyce. Later in the frame and with the bases loaded, sophomore Michael Jamele hit a sacrifice fly that plated classmate Thomas Crowley that increased Merrimack’s edge to 3-1
  • SNHU answered back with a three-run fifth frame. The Penmen’s first two runs came across on a run-scoring ground out and after a Merrimack error at second base, tying the game at 3-3. With two outs and runners on first and second, a double down the line in left field pushed the hosts ahead for the first time, 4-3. Zappulla buckled down to get his last out, preventing further damage
  • In another immediate lead change, the Warriors scored four times in the top of the sixth with all runs touching home with two outs. A fielder’s choice, single and fielding error allowed Merrimack to load the bases for new No. 2 hitter freshman Michael Golankiewicz, who struck a single up that middle to put the visitors back in front, 5-4. With the bases juiced once more, Joyce reached base on a fielder’s choice that allowed Porricelli to race home for the team’s sixth run. A wild pitch then saw Golankiewicz scamper the ninety feet to home that accounted for Merrimack’s seventh run, completing the four-run frame
  • Senior Trevor Cooley took over in the sixth, and preserved the 7-4 advantage with a strikeout and inning-ending double play. SNHU got one run back in the seventh, however, as the Warriors lead sat at two, 7-5, entering the eighth
  • The score remained there until the Penmen took over in the ninth. A leadoff double chased Cooley in favor of graduate student Garrett Hudson. The fifth-year reliever appeared to punch out his first batter, but an error on the throw down to first allowed the baserunner to reach. SNHU scored once on a RBI groundout, but Hudson eliminated one more Penmen to movie within an out of the win. The hosts proceeded to load the bases, and won the game on an 0-2 single that scored two runners

Top Performers // Notes

  • WP: Praml (4-0) | LP: Hudson (0-1)
  • Zappulla’s Final Line (ND): 5.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K
  • Porricelli’s third-inning homer increased his career high to seven long balls this season, tying Matt Nicholson’s seven last season as the most homers by a Warrior since 2002
  • He increased his on-base streak to 28 games and his season-long hitting streak to 10; Porricelli’s 22 extra-base hits are also now the second most in the NE10
  • Golankiewicz enjoyed a two-hit day to extend his own hitting streak to eight games. The rookie hit in the two hole for the first time in his career, and joined Joyce as the only Warriors with multi-hit games this season
  • Thursday marked the Warriors’ fourth consecutive game decided by two runs or less, and their third one-run game against SNHU only in 2019

Up Next:
Merrimack returns to the SNHU Baseball Field on Saturday to complete the regular season with a doubleheader beginning at 3:30 p.m. One win ensures a home playoff game next week for the Warriors while a sweep will give Merrimack its first-ever Northeast Division title.

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