RINDGE, N.H. – The Merrimack College baseball team lost in walkoff fashion in Game 1 and saw No. 22 Southern New Hampshire pull away from the Warriors in Game 2 as the Penmen swept the Warriors in a doubleheader on Monday. The non-conference, neutral-site contests were played at Pappas Field on the campus of Franklin Pierce University.
Score (G1): Merrimack 4 | Southern NH 5
Score (G2): Merrimack 1 | Southern NH 12
Records: Merrimack (6-5) | Southern NH (12-5)
Location: Pappas Field | Rindge, N.H.
How It Happened (G1)
Merrimack played the first game of the twin bill as the road team, and got the offense going immediately in the top of the first inning. Sophomore Cam DiSarcina (Shirley, Mass.) reached base on a single and advanced to third base on a wild pitch. Junior Frank Crinella (East Longmeadow, Mass.) hit DiSarcina home with a double down the left field line. With Sean O’Neill (Norwood, Mass.) at bat, Crinella stole third and a throwing error by the Penmen catcher allowed the Warriors’ All-American to score and the Warriors led 2-0.
Merrimack starter Perry Kulaga (Lincroft, N.J.) did not get off to a good start. After getting the first two outs of the bottom of the first, Kulaga hit the third hitter in the Penmen order, then allowed consecutive hits. When it was all said and done, the game was tied at 2-2 after one inning. Kulaga would settle down, but the Warriors bats were quieted as well. Neither team was able to score another run entering the top of the fifth.
In that frame, the Navy and Gold ended the scoreless drought. With two outs in the inning, DiSarcina singled, Crinella walked, and O’Neill was hit by a pitch on a full count, loading the bases for the Warriors. Junior designated hitter Matt Brown (Belmont, Mass.) grounded to second base, but the Penmen fielder booted the ball, allowed a run to score for Merrimack. The Warriors added one run in the seventh as Crinella hit a sacrifice fly to score Bobby Losanno (Peabody, Mass.), who double to lead off the frame.
Kulaga settled down after a rocky top of the first to toss seven strong innings. His final line included two earned runs on four hits, while striking out a career-high nine batters. The win was not in the cards for the Warriors though. In the bottom of the eighth, sophomore Matt Dinello (Southington, Conn.) relieved Kulaga. He allowed a lead-off walk, then Carson Helms hit a liner into right field. Senior John Pastyrnak (Bristol, Conn.) dived for the ball, but it got by him and rolled away, allowing a run score and Helms to race into third base. The Penmen centerfielder scored on a sacrifice fly, tying the game at 4-4.
In the bottom of the ninth, more miscues hurt the Warriors. Dinello allowed a lead-off single, but made a diving catch as the next batter for SNHU attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt. The Warriors reliever popped up and attempted to double off the Penmen runner, but his throw drew O’Neill off the bag. The next batter, Kyle McGinnity, smoked a walk-off triple into the outfield, giving the nationally ranked Penmen the comeback win.
How It Happened (G2)
Freshman Cam LaFleur (Brookline, N.H.) made his first career start for the Warriors in the second game of the twin bill. LaFleur made one relief appearance earlier in the year, throwing one inning in the second game of a doubleheader against Wilmington (Del.).
The Warriors offense gave the rookie a 1-0 lead after one inning. With DiSarcina and third base and Crinella at first, Merrimack executed a double steal to perfection. Both players arrived at their respective bases safely, with DiSarcina scoring the first run of the game. It is the second time that the Warriors have stolen home this year, as Ryan Petrone (Leicester, Mass.) scampered across home in walk-off fashion against Nyack earlier in the year.
LaFleur did not allow a single run through the first four innings, but ran into trouble in the top of the fifth. The Penmen score two unearned runs after runners reached base on Merrimack errors. In the top of the sixth, LaFleur allowed the first three batters to reach base, including a home run from Lorenzo Papa. The Penmen ended the frame with five runs and a 7-1 advantage.
Southern New Hampshire tacked on five runs over the final four innings of play to sweep the doubleheader. The Penmen improved to 12-5 on the season, while the Warriors fall to 6-5, losing for the first time within the region this season.
The Warriors will begin Northeast-10 Conference play on Saturday afternoon, when Merrimack travels to Adelphi for a cross-divisional twin bill against the Panthers. The first pitch of Game 1 is scheduled for Noon.