MALDEN, Mass. - In its Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division opener, the Saint Michael's College baseball team remained deadlocked until the eighth inning on Friday with regionally-ranked Merrimack College before falling, 3-1, at Malden Catholic High School. The Purple Knights, who fell by two runs or fewer for the sixth time, are 5-10 overall, while the Warriors improved to 13-6 and 4-1. Merrimack is seventh in this week's D2baseballnews.com East Region poll.
The contest also marked the opener of a three-game weekend series between the teams. The squads return to action tomorrow at Trinity Stadium in Haverhill, Mass., for a doubleheader that begins at 12:30 p.m.
Junior Nick Nelson (Spofford, N.H./Keene) was 2-for-4 with an RBI for Saint Michael's, while first-year Matt Feeney (Portsmouth, N.H./Portsmouth) added a pair of knocks. Junior Tyler Wild (Quaker Hill, Conn./Saint Bernard School) walked twice and scored, while classmate Alec Tice (Chelmsford, Mass./Chelmsford) doubled and was twice hit by a pitch. During a complete-game effort, senior lefty Andrew Kelley (Lincoln, N.H./Lin-Wood) yielded three earned runs in eight innings, scattering seven hits while striking out six and not walking a batter.
First-year Matt Brown (Belmont, Mass./Worcester Academy) provided the tie-breaking two-run single with two out in the eighth inning for the Warriors while also scoring a run during the contest. Classmate Sean O'Neill (Norwood, Mass./Norwood) went 2-for-3 with a run, and junior Eddie Newton (North Billerica, Mass./Arlington Catholic) finished 2-for-3 with a triple. Senior Beau Batchelor (Peabody, Mass./Austin Prep), the second of three pitchers, earned the win after allowing two hits over three shutout innings. Classmate Joe Mantoni (Northbridge, Mass./Hopedale) picked up the save after tossing a perfect ninth inning, striking out two batters.
Wild led off the first inning with a walk before coming around to score on Nelson's two-out RBI single, but the hosts knotted the game during the second frame, with Brown being hit by a pitch to lead off before a fielder's choice brought him around. The Purple Knights loaded the bases with no one out during a scoreless third, but senior starting pitcher Mike Laracy (Weymouth, Mass./Weymouth) struck out the fourth batter of the frame before inducing a double play grounder, and Kelley similarly negated a pair of singles to begin the home half before retiring the final three Warrior hitters.
Laracy got out of the fifth and sixth thanks to two more inning-ending double plays, while Kelley limited the hosts to only a triple during a 16-batter span between the third and seventh frames. Tice was stranded after doubling with one down in the eighth, and Merrimack snapped the 1-1 tie in the home portion. After O'Neill reached third with two down, consecutive Warriors were hit by a pitch before Brown delivered a two-run single to center field. Kelley fanned the final hitter. Mantoni came on in the ninth to set down all three Purple Knights, getting a grounder to the second baseman to end the game.