Purple Knights twice nearly rally past #15 Franklin Pierce on Senior Day, swept in twinbill

COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College baseball team challenged nationally-ranked Franklin Pierce University into the late stages of a pair of Senior Day ballgames on Saturday at Doc Jacobs Field, nearly overcoming a seven-run deficit in a 9-8 loss during game one before leading heading into the eighth inning of a 9-4 setback in the second contest.

The Purple Knights finished 11-29 overall and 4-17 in the Northeast-10 Conference's Northeast Division during their first season in a league since 1998, with its campaign including a victory over the Ravens on Thursday. The Ravens, who stand 15th in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) national poll, are 33-15-1 and 14-6-1. Franklin Pierce is first in two regional polls.

In game one, Saint Michael's trailed 7-0 in the fourth inning before scoring five times in the seventh and countering a Raven two-run ninth with three runs, having the potential tying run thrown out at the plate to end the game. Sophomore Alec Tice (Chelmsford, Mass./Chelmsford) had two hits, while freshman Don McGuirl (Warwick, R.I./Saint Sebastian's School) doubled and drew four of the Purple Knights' 11 walks from the No. 9 spot. Classmate Nicky Elderton (Shelburne, Vt./Rice Memorial) had a hit and three bases on balls. Junior Andrew Kelley (Lincoln, N.H./Lin-Wood) fanned six during the loss, allowing six earned runs in seven innings.

Junior Dan Kemp (Sturbridge, Mass./Tantasqua Regional) was 3-for-5 with three runs for the Ravens, while sophomore Calvin Graves (Boston, Mass./West Roxbury) went 3-for-4 with two runs. Junior Ryan Thompson (Calgary, Alberta/Connecticut) picked up the win, striking out 11 but walking six in six-plus innings, yielding four runs on three hits. Senior Erik Sommers (Voluntown, Conn./Griswold) notched the save.

Franklin Pierce scored seven runs in the opening four frames, with four being plated on bunts or sac flies, before Kelley retired eight straight batters at one point, including five in a row on strikes. The Purple Knights capitalized on four walks to score five times on just two hits in the seventh to creep within two. After senior Michael Robinson (Fairfield, Conn./Fairfield Warde) walked and scored on a wild pitch, classmate Ben Mitchell (Pembroke, N.H./Pembroke Academy), who doubled, came in on a passed ball. Tice's single off the pitcher's leg plated a run before Elderton and senior Chadwick Estey (New Haven, Vt./Mount Abraham Union) picked up RBIs.

The Ravens scored twice on bases-loaded walks in the ninth, creating a 9-5 cushion, but the hosts kept chipping away in the home half. Sophomore Nick Nelson (Spofford, N.H./Keene) lofted a sac fly, and classmate Jason Moore (Avon, Conn./Northwest Catholic) knocked a pinch-hit RBI single. With two on base, McGuirl ripped a two-out double to the left-field gap, scoring Estey, but the relay to the plate cut down the potential tying run by less than a foot to end the contest.

Game two saw Nelson cap a three-run seventh with a go-ahead two-run double, but Franklin Pierce scored the final seven runs, breaking a tie with five in the ninth. Sophomore Tyler Wild (Quaker Hill, Conn./Saint Bernard School) had a career-high four hits, including a double, while McGuirl also doubled among his two hits. Senior Austin Ziskie (Chevy Chase, Md./Bethesda-Chevy Chase) yielded four runs while striking out seven in 7.1 innings before sophomore Nick Myers (Canton, Conn./The Master's School) suffered the loss in relief.

Junior Nick LaCroix (Grafton, Mass./Grafton) was 5-for-5 with three runs for the visitors, and senior Isaac Wenrich (Westlawn, Pa./Wilson) had five RBIs thanks to three hits, including a home run. Sophomore Kevin McGowan (Nashua, N.H./Nashua North) struck out nine in the complete-game win.

McGuirl's two-out RBI double knotted the game in the fifth before the Purple Knights overcame a 2-1 hole with three two-out runs in the seventh. Wild's ground-rule double plated senior Bryan Geary (Milton, Vt./Milton/Skidmore), and Nelson's two-run double made it 4-2. However, a sac fly and Wenrich's RBI single tied it in the eighth, and Wenrich's three-run homer keyed the five-run ninth.

Prior to the contests, seniors Estey, Geary, Mitchell, Robinson, Ziskie, Chris Hoey (Huntington, N.Y./Saint Anthony's), Tim McDonnell (Durham, N.H./Oyster River) and Jesse Sullivan (Saugus, Mass./Pingree School) were all honored.