MANCHESTER, N.H. - The Saint Michael's College baseball team one-hit regionally-ranked Southern New Hampshire University during their nationally-televised opener of Tuesday's doubleheader while being swept, 2-0 and 10-1, at Penmen Field. The first contest of the day was shown live on FOX College Sports.
The Purple Knights slipped to 9-29 overall and 4-16 in the Northeast-10 Conference, while the Penmen are 31-13 and 17-6. Southern New Hampshire, which is fifth in the latest NCAA East Region rankings, received a perfect game from senior Mitchell Powers during the opener.
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, while the Purple Knights have lost by three runs or fewer 13 times this spring. Southern New Hampshire leads the NE10 Northeast Division and is second in the New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association (NEIBA) poll.
In a game one that featured only one hit, by the hosts 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 University. The Penmen won both of those contests at home by 2-1 finals.
Powers struck out 11 during his perfecto, while first-year cleanup hitter Dakota Mulcay had the game's only hit, a clean single with one out in the eighth. He also walked, while sophomore Jake Coro had the lone RBI in the contest. Classmate Tom Blandini walked three times and scored.
Southern New Hampshire did all of its scoring in the first two innings on a pair of unorthodox plays. With the bases loaded and one out in the opening frame, Coro reached on a fielder's choice to plate Blandini, but Saint Michael's turned a 4-6-3-2 double play to end the threat, getting a lead runner at second and then, after not being able to turn a twin killing on Coro, cutting down a second runner trying to score from second base on the grounder.
In the second, Blandini took off to steal second as the trail runner with Penmen at the corners, but a throwing error on the play allowed graduate student Taylor Olmstead to race home with the second run. With the bases loaded, Favicchio retired the final batter, and Dorcean entered from the bullpen in the third to continue a stretch of Purple Knight hurlers retiring 19 of the final 22 Southern New Hampshire batters.
Meanwhile, Saint Michael's looked to break through against Powers. In his first start as a position player, first-year right fielder Hunter Ruiz (Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson) worked back from an 0-2 count to make it full - the Penmen pitcher's first three-ball count - with two out in the sixth before grounding out. Classmate Joe Webber (Marshfield, Mass./Bridgton Academy) went 3-1 but popped out leading off the seventh, and first-year Holden Jackman (Eliot, Maine/Marshwood) hit a ball just short of the warning track in dead center for the final out of the eighth. In the home half, Mulcay singled through the hole past diving first-year second baseman Anthony Azpeitia (Tampa, Fla./King) with one down for the only hit. Ruiz again came up with two out in the ninth inning and again had a lengthy at bat, working it full before Powers ended the contest with a strikeout.
With the Purple Knights playing the home team in the nightcap, Webber 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. Azpeitia 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.
Blandini went 3-for-5 with two runs, an RBI and a triple for Southern New Hampshire, while junior Joshua Zbierski finished 2-for-5 with a run, three RBIs and a home run. Redshirt junior Jake Walkinshaw allowed one run on three hits in six innings, fanning eight and walking none.
Graduate student Thomas Buonopane's RBI double and Olmstead's sacrifice fly gave the Penmen single runs in the first and second innings, respectively, before Robertson homered with one out in the fourth to trim the deficit to 2-1. Redshirt senior Ryan Sullivan's sac fly in the fifth pushed the lead back to two, at 3-1, the margin by which Saint Michael's still trailed with one down in the seventh. Southern New Hampshire broke out for seven runs on five hits that inning to pull away, with Zbierski's three-run home run with two down the key hit. Azpeitia walked and Webber singled in the eighth to give the Purple Knights their final threat, but the final two batters were fanned.
The Purple Knights host regionally-ranked Franklin Pierce University for the final three games of their regular season later this week, beginning with a 4 p.m. contest on Thursday. The Ravens are fourth in the latest NCAA East Region poll while placing third in the NEIBA rankings.