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Zappulla spins a gem as Merrimack cruises past SCSU in NE10 Tournament

SYRACUSE, N.Y.  – Sophomore starter Vin Zappulla delivered a marvelous eight-inning outing for the Merrimack College baseball program on Thursday, striking out a career-high 10 batters as he limited the Southern Connecticut State Owls’ second-ranked offense in the Northeast-10 Conference to just one run. As a result, the Warriors opened NE10 Championship Weekend with an 8-1 triumph over SCSU to advance into the winner’s bracket of the double-elimination tournament.

Third-seeded Merrimack now awaits the victor of fellow No. 3 seed Le Moyne and fourth-seeded Franklin Pierce in its next game, which is currently scheduled for tomorrow. An exact game time will be announced later today. Thursday’s tilts, as well as the remainder of the tournament, will be played at Onondaga Community College’s Baseball Complex in Syracuse, N.Y.

Zappulla blanked Southern Connecticut over the first five innings, allowing Merrimack’s bats to build a 4-0 lead that included the ninth homer of the season for junior Joey Porricelli, the NE10’s Co-Player of the Year. Merrimack scored at least one run in seven of its eight turns to hit, highlighted by a 3-for-4 performance with two runs scored and one RBI for freshman Kurtis Stadnicki.

The Basics
Score: Merrimack
 8, SCSU 1
Records: Merrimack (27-18) | SCSU (20-27)
Location: Onondaga Community College | Syracuse, N.Y.

2019 NE10 Championship Schedule
Tuesday, May 7th – First Round (single elimination)
Game 1:  #4 SW Southern Connecticut def. #1 SW Adelphi, 9-6
Game 2:  #3 SW Le Moyne def. #2 SW Pace, 2-1
Game 3:  #4 NE Franklin Pierce def. #1 NE SNHU, 3-2
Game 4:  #3 NE Merrimack def. #2 NE Bentley, 6-5

Thursday, May 9th – Championship Weekend (double elimination)
All Games to be played at Onondaga Community College’s Baseball Complex  

Game 5:  #3 NE Merrimack def. #4 SW Southern Connecticut, 8-1
Game 6:  #3 SW Le Moyne vs. #4 NE Franklin Pierce (1:30 PM)
Game 7:  Game 5 loser vs. Game 6 loser (5:00 PM)

Friday, May 10th – Saturday, May 11th
All Games to be played at Onondaga Community College’s Baseball Complex  

Game 8:  #3 NE Merrimack vs. Game 6 winner – GAME TIME TBA
Game 9:  Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 loser
Game 10:  Game 9 winner vs. Game 8 winner
Game 11:  If necessary

Rapid Recap

  • After Zappulla worked around a two-out single in the top of the first, Merrimack generated its first run in the bottom half. Junior Thomas Joyce drew a two-out walk, stole second and raced home on an opposite-field single by senior Matthew Ronai to account for the first scoring play
  • More two-out production occurred in the second. Stadnicki hit a one-out double, was moved to third by senior Anthony Garbarino and scored after sophomore Michael Jamele lined a one-hopper to shortstop that was bobbled by the Owls. Through two, Merrimack led 2-0
  • Zappulla kept putting up zeroes, stranding an Owl on second with his fourth strikeout of the afternoon to close the top of the fourth. Merrimack tacked on another in the bottom half. Sophomore Thomas Crowley legged out an infield single, and reached second on a throwing error on the play. Consecutive ground-ball outs allowed the right fielder to score, with Garbarino credited with the RBI
  • Porricelli pulled his second homer in as many playoff games in the bottom of the fifth, starting a streak of one run each for Merrimack across the next three frames. The Warriors answered Southern Connecticut’s first run of the day in the sixth when Stadnicki scored on a wild pitch. The rookie was involved in the scoring in the seventh too. After two quick outs, freshman Michael Golankiewicz and Crowley reached base for the first-year catcher, who deposited a single into center to score Golankiewicz. Through seven frames, the Warriors led by five, 6-1
  • Zappulla kept dealing into the eighth, when he escaped from a jam. The Staten Island, N.Y. native allowed two hits to start the inning to put runners on second and third, but Porricelli eliminated the lead runner on a grounder to the hot corner for the inning’s first out. The righty then proceeded to record consecutive strikeouts, leaving two Owls on base in the process
  • Merrimack tacked on two insurance runs in the eighth including a RBI for junior Nick Shumski. Freshman reliever Cedric Gillette ended the game with a clean top of the ninth

Top Performers // Notes

  • WP: Zappulla (7-1) | LP: White (6-1)
  • Zappulla’s Final Line (W): 8.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 10 K
  • The right-handed pitcher totaled double-digit punch outs for the first time in his career, moving into a tie for the team lead with seven wins. Both Zappulla and senior Cam Monagle are just the third and fourth pitchers in program history to post at least seven victories in a single campaign
  • Zappulla moved into the team lead in strikeouts (64) and innings pitched (77.0) after Thursday
  • Porricelli moved into seventh all-time in single-season history with his ninth homer of the year. The third baseman has homered three times over his last five games. He added a pair of runs scored and two RBI, as well
  • Stadnicki has broken out of a five-game hitless slump in a massive way, hitting 5-for-9 at the dish in his first two career postseason games. The Concord, N.H. posted his first-ever three-hit game and 10th multi-hit game overall in 2019
  • Five different Warriors recorded at least two hits as the team posted 13 in total. Merrimack is now 18-3 this season when its offense puts together at least 10 base knocks
  • Merrimack picked up its 32nd win all-time in conference tournament play, the second most victories among current NE10 members

Up Next:
The Warriors will return to Onondaga Community College tomorrow to play the host school, Le Moyne College, at 12 p.m. in a winner’s bracket tilt. If the Warriors win, they will advance to Championship Saturday for the second straight season. A lose will force Merrimack to play in an elimination game against either Southern Connecticut State or Franklin Pierce at approximately 3:30 p.m.

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