BRIGHTON, Mass. – The sophomore pitching tandem of Vin Zappulla and Timmy Kalantzakos dazzled on Saturday afternoon for the Merrimack College baseball program, throwing eight-inning shutout outings as the Warriors swept their Saturday doubleheader with Stonehill, 6-0 and 6-0, to take a pair of Northeast Division contests from the Skyhawks. Saturday’s games were played at the Harrington Athletics Village in Brighton, Mass., the home of the Boston College Eagles baseball program.
Offensively, the Warriors were led on the day by senior Matthew Ronai who went 7-for-8 at the dish with three RBI and three runs scored. Junior Thomas Joyce knocked in a team-best four runs on the day while classmate Nick Shumski added a pair of triples in Saturday’s finale.
Merrimack has posted three straight shutout victories for the first time in school history, all of which have come in divisional play.
Score (G1): Merrimack 6, Stonehill 0
Score (G2): Merrimack 6, Stonehill 0
Records: Merrimack (11-10, 3-0 NE Div.) | Stonehill (12-13, 1-2 NE Div.)
Location: Harrington Athletics Village | Brighton, Mass.
Rapid Recap (Game 1):
- Zappulla was effective to start the day, holding the Skyhawks scoreless through his first four innings of work. He struck out three during that frame. Merrimack put baserunners in scoring position in both the second and third innings, but did not capitalize during either scoring chance. The score remained 0-0 entering the bottom of the fourth
- Freshman Kurtis Stadnicki reached on an error and seniors William Keegan and Cory Wasylow followed with singles to load the bases with no outs for Merrimack. Sophomore Michael Jamele plated the rookie by lofting a sacrifice fly into left field, making it a 1-0 game at the end of the bottom half
- Merrimack added another in the fifth. Junior Nick Shumski hit a leadoff single, advanced two bases on a hit from senior Matthew Ronai and scored on a bloop knock by junior Thomas Joyce. The Warriors then chased Stonehill’s starter in the bottom of the sixth, benefiting from a Stonehill error to score three unearned runs. Ronai knocked in junior Joey Porricelli with a sacrifice fly while Joyce contributed a two-out RBI single, increasing the Warriors’ edge to 4-0
- Zappulla continued to cruise. The Staten Island, N.Y. native did not allow a hit from the third inning through the seventh frame. He retired as many as 12 in a row during his outing, and finished the eight innings with a season-high tying six strikeouts
- Junior Dylan Stevens threw the ninth, retiring three of the four batters he faced
Rapid Recap (Game 2):
- Kalantzakos was on his game to start Saturday’s finale, sitting down the first 11 Skyhawks he faced and completing the first four innings of his outing without allowing a run
- Merrimack’s offense immediately staked Kalantzakos to a 2-0 lead when four of its first five hitters reached base in the first. With Ronai and Porricelli in scoring position, Joyce hit a two-run single back up to middle to move Merrimack in front
- While Kalantzakos was dominating on the hill, Merrimack’s bats added single runs in the fifth and the sixth to make it a 4-0 contest. Shumski hit a leadoff triple in the sixth and immediately scored on a Ronai single to account for the fourth run. After two Skyhawks reached base with two outs in the fourth, Kalantzakos sat down 10 straight entering the eighth to keep the score at 4-0
- Insurance markers in the seventh and eighth innings brought the score to its final 6-0 margin. Sophomore Jake Thibault threw a clean ninth inning to end the game
Notes and Notables (Game 1):
- WP – Zappulla (3-1) | LP – Williams (1-1)
- Zappulla’s Final Line (W): 8.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
- Merrimack’s right-handed hurler set a season high in wins, throwing his first shutout outing of the year as well. Zappulla struck out six for the third time this season, and registered his second straight quality start
- The middle of Merrimack’s order carried the offense. Ronai, Joyce and Stadnicki – Merrimack’s No. 3-5 hitters – combined for eight hits over 14 at-bats. Joyce knocked in a pair of runs from the cleanup spot
- Joyce and Wasylow joined Ronai to tie for the team lead with three hits apiece, with all three players setting season highs in the hits department
- All 14 of Merrimack’s base knocks on the day were singles
Notes and Notables (Game 2)
- WP – Kalantzakos (3-1) | LP – Powicki (0-1)
- Kalantzakos’ Final Line (W): 8.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 8 K
- Kalantzakos established a new career high with eight strikeouts, and increased his quality-start streak to five. The Andover, Mass. native did not allow a run for the second time this season, and also matched his season long for innings pitched
- Ronai tied his career high with four hits, reached base in every at-bat. He rose his season average by nearly 70 points, increasing his average to .291 on the year. The captain now has three straight multi-hit games
- Joyce boasts consecutive games with at least two hits and six multi-hit games on the year
- Shumski equaled his career high with three triples on the year; his eight extra-base hits this year rank second on Merrimack
Merrimack faces Stonehill for tomorrow’s series finale at 10:30 a.m. from Saint John’s Preparatory School in Danvers, Mass.