NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Junior right-hander Perry Kulaga (Lincroft, N.J.) tossed nine masterful innings en route to the program’s second-ever no-hitter, and his offense backed him up early and often, as the Merrimack College baseball team secured its first divisional win of the season with a thorough 12-0 romp over Assumption on Wednesday afternoon at the Warrior Baseball Diamond.
Looking to snap a season-high four-game losing streak and hoping to earn its first Northeast Division win of the season, Merrimack welcomed Assumption to campus, where the Warriors were playing for only the third time this season.
Kulaga was dealing early, tossing 1-2-3 frames in the first, working around a hit batsmen in the second and then facing the minimum again in the third, allowing the offense to draw first blood.
Back-to-back walks put Merrimack in business in the first before junior Cam DiSarcina (Shirley, Mass.) roped a hard-hit liner to left that brought in redshirt junior Mike Forgione(North Branford, Conn.); an overrun by the left fielder allowed junior Tyler Lyne (Agawam, Mass.) to cross the plate all the way from first, as the Warriors built an early 2-0 lead after an inning of play.
Merrimack got the leadoff man on in both the second and third but was kept in check. That changed in the fourth, as senior Matt Brown (Belmont, Mass.) roped a leadoff double down the left field line, moved to third on a ground out and came home on a successful squeeze bunt laid down by freshman Matthew Ronai (Orange, Conn.), upping the hosts’ lead to 3-0 after four frames.
Forgione worked a leadoff walk again in the fifth, and that would haunt Assumption again, as a one-out RBI double down the left field line from senior Sean O’Neill (Norwood, Mass.) would bring in Forgione and push Merrimack ahead, 4-0.
The Warriors broke the game open with a three-spot in the bottom of the sixth. Back-to-back hits to start the frame put the home side in business before Forgione continued his big day with a run-scoring double to get things rolling and chase Assumption starter Kyle Chudoba. But Lyne greeted the new reliever with a hard chopper through the left side that glanced off the short stops’s glove and into left to plate another, and Forgione would eventually score from third on a fielder’s choice to put the Warriors comfortably ahead by seven.
Three more insurance runs came across in the bottom of the eighth, as each of the first five batters in the lineup would reach base highlighted by four consecutive hits, as RBI doubles from Lyne and O’Neill pushed in three runs before Brown smashed his second home run of the year – a monster shot that cleared the left field fence easily and landed in the softball field – to account for the final margin of victory.
Meanwhile, back on the mound, his teammates held their collective breath as Kulaga tossed 1-2-3 innings in the fourth, fifth and sixth. He would rebound after plunking his second batsmen of the day in the top of the seventh by getting the next three in order, and then worked around a walk in the eighth to set the stage for the dramatic finish.
Kulaga needed only one pitch and benefited from a fantastic lay-out dive from Ronai at third in foul ground to get the first out, and then got ahead 0-2 early en route to an eventual strikeout swinging for the second out. Assumption’s third batter kept the game going after blooping a fly ball out to left that wound up as an error after glancing off the glove of Lyne, but Kulaga kept his computer and struck out the final batter – his seventh of the day – on three pitches to secure the no-no and the win.
Notes and Numbers
- Kulaga became only the second pitcher in school history to toss a no-hitter; the only previous one was thrown by Chris Pinette on March 20, 2009, against Philadelphia , in a 4-0 win that featured three strikeouts and one walk
- Brown and Ronai finished with three hits, with the former finishing with two RBIs and two runs, while Forgine went 2-for-2 with four runs, an RBI and three walks
- O’Neill led all Warriors with three RBIs on a 2-for-5 day
- Hits/Runs/Errors: Merrimack – 12/15/1 | Assumption – 0/0/1
- Pitching Matchup: Kulaga (W, 2-1) – 9 IP // 7 K // 1 BB // 0 ER // 0 H | Chudoba (L, 1-4) – 5.1 IP // 2 K // 3 BB // 7 ER // 9 H
The Warriors head on the road this weekend to face Saint Rose on Saturday and Le Moyne on Sunday. Both days will feature doubleheaders starting at 12 p.m.