Sophomore outfielder Matt Nicholson (Rockland, Mass.) hit the game-winning three-run home run in the top of the seventh, putting the Merrimack College baseball team in front of Queens College for good, 7-6, on Sunday afternoon at the Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach. The Warriors came back from a 6-2 deficit to win their fifth of five games this weekend in South Carolina.
Score: Merrimack 7, Queens 6
Records: Merrimack (5-0) | Queens (2-3)
Location: Ripken Experience | Myrtle Beach, S.C.
How It Happened
The Warriors entered the afternoon looking for their fifth win in a five-game swing through South Carolina to open up the season. Redshirt-freshman Garrett Hudson(Greenfield, Mass.) took the ball for the Navy and Gold in the weekend finale, making his first career start.
The Warriors bats gave Hudson a 1-0 advantage to work with, courtesy of a run-scoring double from junior Tyler Lyne (Agawam, Mass.) that plated Mike Forgione (North Branford, Conn.). Queens answered with three runs off Hudson in the bottom of the frame, and scored two more in the bottom of the third before redshirt-sophomore Michael Nocera (Bristol, Conn.) came out of the bullpen to get out of the jam.
The fourth and fifth innings went by scoreless, with Nocera quieting the Knights’ offense. In the top of the sixth Merrimack got one run back, as Nicholson knocked home Cam DiSarcina (Shirley, Mass.) after the latter reached base on an error to start the inning. Sophomore Joe Westerman (Maynard, Mass.) replaced Nocera in the bottom of the sixth, getting his first two batters out before a triple followed by a single scored Queens’ sixth run.
Westerman limited the damage to one run, and the Warriors attack broke out in the seventh. Junior Matt DiNello (Southington, Conn.), making his first start in the field this season, hit a leadoff single and scored on Lyne’s triple to right field. DiSarcina followed suit with a wall-ball double to left-center, scoring Lyne easily from third.
Senior Bobby Losanno (Peabody, Mass.) walked to bring up Nicholson, representing the go-ahead run, with two outs in the frame. The Warriors right fielder roped a three-run dinger to the opposite field to give the Warriors their first lead of the day, 7-6.
Westerman got through the seventh and recorded two outs in the eighth before getting into trouble. Junior closer Nate Spielvogel (Brookline, Mass.) inherited two runners and after an infield single faced a bases loaded situation, but got the next batter to ground sharply to third, where DiSarcina snagged the grounder and completed the force play to get out of the inning unscathed. Spielvogel proceeded to work a one-two-three ninth inning, including two strikeouts, to pick up his second save of the season.
Inside The Numbers
- Nicholson totaled only one hit on the day, but it was the biggest of the weekend for the Warriors. It was the sophomore’s second career homer, both of which have been opposite-field shots for the right-handed hitting outfielder
- DiSarcina posted his best hitting day of the weekend, totaling three base knocks for his first three-hit game of the season. He posted five three-hit contests last season
- Every single player in the Warriors starting nine reached base on Sunday. The Merrimack offense totaled at least seven runs in four of its five games in Myrtle, hitting .322 as a team and slugging at a .429 clip
- Five of the Warriors regulars leave South Carolina with a .300 average or better, led by Forgione who totaled eight hits in 20 at-bats for a .400 clip. Lyne leads the group with a .542 on-base percentage, while Nicholson sits atop the slugging rankings at .619
- The Merrimack bullpen pitched well again against Queens, allowing only one run in over six innings of work. Excluding the three runs allowed when the Warriors led by 11 against Felician in the season opener, the Warriors bullpen arms combined to give up just two runs in 14.1 innings of work and totaled 20 strikeouts
- Spielvogel picked up his eighth career save, moving him into a tie for second place in program history with Joe Mantoni (2010-13)
Merrimack returns home before heading back on the road to Long Island, where the Warriors will take on Molloy College in a three-game set beginning on Saturday at 12 p.m.