Herculean Effort From Browne Earns Merrimack Baseball a Split with SNHU

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Senior ace PJ Browne nearly tossed a complete game on Saturday afternoon, throwing into the ninth inning and tossing a career-high 143 pitches to lead the Merrimack College baseball program to a 3-2 win over Northeast Division leading Southern New Hampshire from Holman Stadium. Browne tied the program record for wins (17) in the process, and set up a series-deciding third game tomorrow after the Penmen recovered to win game two of Saturday’s twinbill, 12-6.

The Basics
Score (G1): Merrimack 3, 
Score (G2): SNHU 12, Merrimack 6
Records: Merrimack (22-16, 14-9 NE10, 9-6 NE DIV)
Records: SNHU (28-13, 14-6 NE10, 13-3 NE DIV)
Location: Holman Stadium | Nashua, N.H.

Rapid Recap (Game 1):

  • Browne relented two baserunners in each of the first two innings, but kept the Penmen of the board. Merrimack’s best scoring chance early on came in the bottom of third, when graduate student Tyler Lyne came up with runners on the corners and two outs. The center fielder flew out to end the frame, however, keeping things scoreless
  • Both pitchers put up zeros until the sixth, when both programs scored. A leadoff single, sacrifice fly and a wild pitch put the go-ahead run 90 feet away. With two outs, the Warriors intentionally walked the No. 6 hitter to put runners on the corners and the Penmen utilized a first-and-third play to score the game’s first run
  • The Warriors went ahead in the bottom half. Sophomore Joey Porricelli hit a one-out base hit, advanced to second on an error and came around to score on Lyne’s game-tying single. Merrimack then benefitted from a pair of Penmen errors. Junior Matthew Ronai singled with two outs, and advanced to second on a missed cutoff throw. Senior Matt Nicholson then hit a single deep in the hole at third, but the third baseman’s throw to first went up the first-base line, allowing Ronai to round third and make it a 2-1 game
  • Merrimack added what proved to be a crucial run in the bottom of the eighth. Porricelli hit a leadoff single and stole second to move into scoring position. With outs and the sophomore still at second, Nicholson roped a single to left center to bring Merrimack’s advantage to 3-1
  • Browne entered the ninth inning with nearly 140 pitches, and saw a seven-pitch at-bat to the leadoff hitter end with a single, which ushered on sophomore Stephen Fleury. The righty allowed his inherited runner to score on a RBI groundout, but ended the game with a popup to clinch the win and pick up his fourth save of the year

Rapid Recap (Game 2):

  • The Penmen jumped on Merrimack immediately, sending 10 men to the plate and scoring six runs off senior Anthony Lupi in the top of the first
  • The Warriors entered the bottom of the third facing a 9-0 deficit, but scored three times to chip into that mark. Sophomore Connor Suech sparked the inning by sending a 1-2 offering over the left field fence, his first career home run. Nicholson came through with a two-run single later in the third to complete the scoring in the third
  • Lupi completed seven innings of work, limiting the amount of innings needed from the bullpen. Junior Trevor Cooley relieved the senior captain in the eighth, tossing two scoreless frames
  • Merrimack scored one run each in the fourth, seventh and ninth innings. Ronai knocked in two runs, one each in the final third of the game

Notes and Notables (Game 1):

  • WP – Browne (3-2) | LP – Lalonde (4-3) | S – Fleury (4)
  • Browne’s Final Line (W): 8.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
  • The victory snapped a seven-game losing streak against Southern New Hampshire, dating back to the 2015 season
  • Browne continued his career season and ascent in multiple areas of Merrimack’s pitching records with his 17th career victory, tying a progrma mark that has stood for 21 years
  • The Rutland, Mass. native turned out his team-leading eighth quality start. He has allowed one earned run or fewer in three of his last four starts
  • The southpaw now ranks first all-time in program history in strikeouts (239), tied for first in wins (17) and is third in innings pitched (232.0)
  • Nicholson continued to rake, collecting his seventh multi-hit effort in his last eight games. He set a new career high in base knocks and increased his career-high total in RBI with the game-winning single
  • Porricelli tied Lyne for the lead in steals (20). The duo are the first pair of Warriors with at least 20 steals in a season since Frank Crinella and Bobby Losanno ’16 in 2013

Notes and Notables (Game 2)

  • WP – Messier (3-1) | LP – Lupi (4-4)
  • Suech became the eighth different Warrior to hit a homer in 2018. The backup catcher collected two hits, his second career multi-hit game
  • Nicholson posted three hits in game two, his fifth three-hit game over his last seven. The starting rightfielder has an 11-game hitting streak and has hit safely in 17 of his last 18 games
  • The Rockland, Mass. native saw his average climb above .400 (.404) with six games to play. Nicholson already has career highs in runs (33), hits (61) and RBI (39), becoming the first Warrior with a 60-hit season in two years

Up Next
Merrimack celebrates Senior Day tomorrow when the Warriors host Southern New Hampshire for the final game of their divisional series at 5 p.m. at Holman Stadium. The ceremony will occur prior to first pitch, which has been pushed back from 1 p.m. due to the rainfall expected throughout the afternoon in Nashua.

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