Baseball (9-32, 4-19) Caps 2018 Season with Setback at Regionally-Ranked Franklin Pierce
The Saint Michael's College baseball team went 0-5 last week in Northeast-10 Conference action. During Tuesday's doubleheader, the Purple Knights were swept by regionally-ranked Southern New Hampshire University, 2-0 and 10-1, with the opener broadcast live on FOX College Sports. On Thursday, the team brought the tying run to the plate during the ninth inning of both games at regionally-ranked Franklin Pierce University before being swept, 6-4 and 6-3. They closed out their 2018 season on Friday with a 7-1 setback to Franklin Pierce when they played their program-record-tying 41st game of the spring. The Purple and Gold was the home team throughout the Franklin Pierce series. Southern New Hampshire sat fourth in the latest NCAA East Region rankings while Franklin Pierce sat fifth. Saint Michael's finished off a five-game season series with the Penmen, with three of the setbacks coming by two runs or fewer, including one in extra innings. Six meetings in the last five years were decided by two or less. Fifteen of the Purple Knights' losses came by three runs or less this season.
In a game one that featured only one hit, by Southern New Hampshire with one down in the eighth inning, first-year Dan Favicchio (Massapequa, N.Y./Saint John the Baptist Diocesan) and graduate student Nick Dorcean (Bellerose, N.Y./Archbishop Molloy/SUNY Old Westbury) combined to limit the Penmen. Dorcean went six innings in relief, yielding the hit while striking out seven and walking one. In his second career start, and first outing since April 11, Favicchio took the loss after allowing both runs, with one earned, while walking six in the opening two frames. The Purple Knights pitched their first one-hitter since April 27, 2004, against Lyndon State College in a five-inning affair. Saint Michael's allowed one hit or less in a nine-inning contest for the first time since John Miarecki '01 fired a no-hitter versus Norwich University on March 31, 2000, and one-hit an NE10 counterpart for the first time since turning the trick against Stonehill College on April 25, 1992. Southern New Hampshire had last been one-hit on Feb. 21, 2015, versus Mercy (N.Y.) College, while picking up only one knock in NE10 action last on April 16, 2014, by Franklin Pierce. The Penmen won both of those contests at home by 2-1 finals.
With the Purple Knights playing the home team in the nightcap, first-year Joe Webber (Marshfield, Mass./Bridgton Academy) was 2-for-4 out of the leadoff spot, while junior Joe Robertson (Essex Junction, Vt./Essex) launched his second career home run. As the first of five pitchers, senior Patrick Martin (Wilton, N.H./Wilton-Lyndeborough Coop/Saint Joseph's [Maine]) took the loss after allowing two runs on five hits in three innings. First-year Cameron Cuellar (Seminole, Fla./Seminole) had the best relief stint, yielding two hits in two shutout frames. He fanned two. First-year Anthony Azpeitia (Tampa, Fla./King), normally a second baseman, was among three players making their debuts at a new position, ending with a team-leading seven putouts - and an assist - in left field. During the twinbill, first-year Danté Moran's (Saint Petersburg, Fla./Dixie Hollins) league-best 20-game hitting streak ended.
In the opener at Franklin Pierce, junior Trevor Allen (Dennis, Mass./Dennis-Yarmouth Regional) finished 3-for-4 with a run, first-year Holden Jackman (Eliot, Maine/Marshwood) was 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI, and Moran batted 2-for-5 with an RBI. First-year Zach Rodgers (Parrish, Fla./Manatee) took the loss after allowing all six runs, with four earned, on seven hits in five innings. He walked five and struck out five, finishing the year with 44 strikeouts, tying Austin Ziskie's '09 program first-year mark. Scott Racicot '72 holds the rookie record of 45 but accomplished the feat as a sophomore in 1970. Junior Christian Devine (Exeter, N.H./Exeter) worked four innings of two-hit, shutout baseball, neither walking nor fanning a hitter.
Azpeitia was 1-for-3 with a walk in the nightcap, and Webber walked once, scored twice and stole a base. With a steal in each end of the doubleheader, Webber ended with 15 for the season, the second-most in program history behind only Brian Rayder '93, who swiped 18 bags in 1992. Redshirt first-year Paul Prue (Dennis, Mass./Nauset Regional/Wheaton [Mass.]) took the loss after allowing five runs on nine hits in five innings. Junior Drew Farris (Andover, Mass./Saint John's Prep) and Cuellar followed with a pair of innings apiece, as neither allowed an earned run. Farris, as with Devine in game one, made his 13th appearance of the year, with both tying for second in program history but also matching the mark from the program's NE10 era.
In their final game at Franklin Pierce, Robertson was 2-for-3 with an RBI, walk, double and triple for the Purple Knights. First-year Iset Maldonado (Brooklyn, N.Y./Saint Francis Prep) had a hit, walk and stolen base, while Moran added a knock and a run, tying Adam Sargent's '97 24-year-old program rookie record with 44 hits. First-year Alex Mendez (Fallon, Nev./Churchill County) allowed five runs, with four earned, on five hits in six innings in the loss. Senior Colin Brennan (Braintree, Mass./Boston College HS) fanned one during a shutout seventh inning, and Dorcean allowed two runs in two frames. Between two schools, he ended up with 131 strikeouts in 121 career innings over 43 games, while Brennan tied for sixth in Saint Michael's history with 36 appearances, matching the second-most among lefties. His 13 outings this season tied Rob Hopper '94 for the most ever by a Purple Knight southpaw.
Robertson ended the season with 10 doubles, tying for second in program history, while the Purple and Gold's 17 newcomers - including 16 first-years - all had a major impact during their first spring on the squad. In addition to tying the program's rookie record for hits, Moran finished with a school-record 158 at bats. Shortstop Maldonado became the second Purple Knight to pass the 100-assist plateau in a season, with his 111 trailing only Don McGuirl's '15 2013 record of 122. As a team, the Purple Knights surpassed standards for saves (6) and pitching strikeouts (231) while yielding a .286 opposing batting average, their lowest in 12 years. They also cut more than two runs from last year's earned run average and matched their highest fielding percentage (.947) in five seasons. At the plate, their 125 bases on balls were their most in six seasons, they tied for third with 54 doubles, and the 54 bases the Purple Knights stole were four short of a 1994 standard.