SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Merrimack College baseball program righted the ship on Sunday afternoon, sweeping a Northeast-10 Conference doubleheader against American International College from Bedard Field in Springfield, Mass. Serving as the home team despite playing on the Yellow Jackets’ campus, the Warriors pulled away for a 9-1 victory in game one before securing a 3-2 triumph in the second tilt.
Sophomore starters Vin Zappulla and Timmy Kalantzakos continued their strong seasons by improving their respective records to 4-1 this spring. Zappulla threw his third straight quality outing to start the day, allowing one run over six innings. Kalantzakos followed by delivering his team-leading sixth quality start of the year, lasting eight innings and tying his career high with eight strikeouts. Senior Riley Sorenson picked up his fourth save of the season in game two, as well
Offensively, the Warriors saw four different players knock in two runs each in game one while junior Thomas Joyce reached base four times in the opener. The finale saw junior Joey Porricelli lead the way with a three-hit day from the leadoff spot, scoring two of the team’s three runs. Senior William Keegan delivered three hits over the two games while knocking in a team-best three runs.
Score (G1): Merrimack 9, AIC 1
Score (G2): Merrimack 3, AIC 2
Records: Merrimack (14-12, 8-3 NE10) | AIC (11-14, 4-7 NE10)
Location: Richard F. Bedard Field | Springfield, Mass.
Rapid Recap (Game 1):
- Zappulla toed the rubber in game one, and tossed three scoreless frames to start the day including working out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the second.
- Merrimack’s offense scored in the bottom of the third as junior Nick Shumski plated both sophomore Michael Jamele and Porricelli with an opposite-field double. Later in the inning, freshman Kurtis Stadnicki drove in two runs with a single, and Keegan added a RBI with a sacrifice fly. A throwing error that followed Keegan’s fly ball allowed Stadnicki to score, as well, leaving Merrimack ahead by six, 6-0
- Merrimack’s three runs came via a run-scoring ground out by Keegan and a two-run double for senior Matthew Ronai. Zappulla relented his lone run of the afternoon in the sixth, completing another quality outing. Senior Trevor Cooley took over in the seventh to work a scoreless frame, keeping Merrimack’s lead at 9-1
- Freshman Cedric Gillette threw his first career scoreless appearance in the ninth, ending the game on a doubleheader to snap Merrimack’s brief two-game losing skid
Rapid Recap (Game 2):
- Both teams scored in the first. AIC loaded the bases with two outs in the top half, and pushed a run across after the Warriors committed an error in the infield. Porricelli led off the bottom half with a double and Shumski followed by reaching on an error, but both runners remained on base with two outs. Keegan stepped into the box and delivered, hitting a two-out single into left field that scored Porricelli and tied the game, 1-1
- The squads mirrored each other again in the second, with both the Yellow Jackets and Warriors placing runners on third and failing to score. Neither team mustered a scoring chance the follow three frames as the score remained deadlocked, 1-1, entering the sixth inning
- Kalantzakos put up another zero in the top of the sixth, and Keegan kept his strong day going with a leadoff single in the bottom half. The designated hitter advanced to second and came around to score on a double from freshman Michael Golankiewicz to give the Warriors a 2-1 edge. AIC immediately responded, however, using a pair of doubles in the top of the seventh to bring the game even once more
- Porricelli generated a run in the seventh. The third baseman hit a leadoff single, promptly stole second and reached third on a sacrifice bunt by Shumski. Joyce followed by hitting a sacrifice fly to center, allowing Porricelli to score the Warriors’ third run
- Kalantzakos completed an eight-inning, eight-strikeout performance with a pair of strikeouts over a clean eighth inning. Sorenson started the ninth with a strikeout followed by a walk, but ended the game on an inning-ending double play to complete the victory
Notes and Notables (Game 1):
- WP – Zappulla (4-1) | LP – Kennedy (2-2)
- Zappulla’s Final Line (W): 6.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 6 K
- The reigning NE10 and NCBWA Player of the Week, Joyce got on base four times in five plate appearances, scoring a pair of runs, recording two hits and drawing two walks. He also swiped one base and saw his season average rise to a team-best .318
- Four Warriors knocked in two runs each to lead the team: Keegan, Ronai, Stadnicki and Shumski. Shumski moved into a tie for first on the team with his seventh multi-RBI game of the year
- Ronai totaled three hits to lead all players
- Zappulla tossed his third straight quality start, posting a season-high six strikeouts for the fourth time over his last five outings. He tied his career high by picking up his fourth win
- Cooley posted a shutout outing for the second time in his last three efforts. The senior righty has allowed one run over his last 5.1 innings of work
Notes and Notables (Game 2)
- WP – Kalantzakos (4-1) | LP – Costanza (1-2) | S: Sorenson (4)
- Kalantzakos’ Final Line (W): 8.0 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 8 K
- Setting a new career high with his fourth win of the season, Kalantzakos also tied Zappulla for the team lead in innings thrown after Sunday’s outing. The sophomores have both thrown 45.0 innings over seven starts. Kalantzakos leads Merrimack with six quality starts followed by Zappulla’s five
- Three players combined for all seven of Merrimack’s hits. Porricelli led the way with three while Keegan and Golankiewicz each collected two
- Porricelli added a pair of steals as well, increasing his team lead to 18. He touched home for the 27th and 28th times this season too, scoring nine more runs than any Warrior this year
- Keegan increased his hitting streak to four games on Sunday, and picked up his third multi-hit game over his last six contests in Sunday’s finale
- Golankiewicz hit his third double of the year and posted his third two-hit game
The Warriors will play another game that sees Merrimack serve as the “home” team on the opponent’s campus. Merrimack faces Bentley on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. at DeFelice Field, and will bat second in the second game of the divisional rivals three-game series. The Warriors won the first contest, 3-0.