COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College baseball team led regionally-ranked Merrimack College until the eighth inning before a ninth-inning rally fell short in an 8-5 loss on Sunday during Senior Day at Doc Jacobs Field. The Purple Knights are 6-24 overall and 1-13 in the Northeast-10 Conference, while the Warriors, who are fifth in this week's New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association (NEIBA) poll, moved to 19-14 and 12-8.
Saint Michael's, which brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning, has lost nine contests decided by three runs or fewer this year.
Junior Trevor Allen (Dennis, Mass./Dennis-Yarmouth Regional) and first-year Anthony Azpeitia (Tampa, Fla./King) both batted 3-for-5 with a run, with Allen also producing an RBI, while first-year Joe Webber (Marshfield, Mass./Bridgton Academy) was 1-for-2 with a run, three walks and a stolen base. Classmate Cameron Kroeger (Clearwater, Fla./Countryside) finished 2-for-3 with two runs, a walk, a double and a sacrifice bunt, while junior Sean Winthrop (Hopkinton, Mass./Lawrence Academy) was 2-for-5 with a run and a double.
First-year Alex Mendez (Fallon, Nev./Churchill County) allowed only one earned run in the opening seven innings before being saddled with the loss, yielding five runs - three earned - in 7.1 frames with a career-high six strikeouts and no walks.
Senior Matt Nicholson hit 3-for-5 with two runs for Merrimack, sophomore Nick Shumski was 2-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs, while four other Warriors had two hits. Classmate Stephen Fleury picked up the win in relief, tossing 3.1 frames and yielding two runs on four hits. Redshirt junior Garrett Hudson worked a 1.2-inning save, allowing one run.
Allen's two-out RBI single in the third inning scored Webber with the game's first run before first-year starter Vin Zappulla wriggled out of a bases-loaded jam, and the visitors countered with two unearned, two-out runs in the next inning. Azpeitia's RBI single knotted the game in the bottom half, and graduate student Tyler Lyne's go-ahead RBI single in the fifth was countered by two Purple Knight runs in the home portion of the frame. First-year Holden Jackman's (Eliot, Maine/Marshwood) sac fly scored Allen with the tying run before Kroeger came home on a wild pitch.
With Mendez still in the game and the hosts leading 4-3, the first batter of the eighth inning grounded out before the Warriors came up with consecutive singles. Graduate student Nick Dorcean (Bellerose, N.Y./Archbishop Molloy/SUNY Old Westbury) entered on the mound and struck out the first batter he faced but, with two out, Shumski blooped a two-run single into right field, and two more Merrimack batters rapped run-scoring hits in a four-run frame.
The Purple Knights left runners at the corners later in the inning, and junior Cory Wasylow's squeeze plated an insurance run in the ninth. Kroeger singled with one down in the Saint Michael's half and Winthrop singled with two out before first-year Iset Maldonado (Brooklyn, N.Y./Saint Francis Prep) dropped an RBI single into center field to cut the deficit to 8-5. However, Hudson fielded a final grounder and narrowly gunned down the runner at first.
The Purple Knights break from NE10 action to visit the State University of New York at Plattsburgh on Tuesday for a 2 p.m. doubleheader.