Purple Knights take No. 12 Southern New Hampshire to extra innings during 3-2 loss

COLCHESTER, Vt. - Freshman Nicky Elderton's (Shelburne, Vt./Rice Memorial) first-inning home run staked the Saint Michael's College baseball team to a 2-0 lead over nationally-ranked Southern New Hampshire University before the Penmen rallied for a 3-2 victory in 10 innings on Wednesday at Doc Jacobs Field. The Purple Knights slipped to 9-25 overall and 2-13 in the Northeast-10 Conference's Northeast Division. The Penmen, who sit 12th in this week's National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) poll, are 34-10 and 10-7 after snapping a four-game losing skid.

Saint Michael's, which is in the midst of a season-ending eight-game homestand, outhit the visitors, 6-5, while Elderton finishing 2-for-4 with two RBIs, a double and the home run. Four others had one hit. Junior Andrew Kelley (Lincoln, N.H./Lin-Wood) tossed the first nine innings, yielding three hits while striking out nine, walking two, and allowing only two fifth-inning runs. Senior Austin Ziskie (Chevy Chase, Md./Bethesda-Chevy Chase) worked the 10th inning, being saddled with the loss after allowing one run on two hits. He struck out one batter.

Sophomore Junior Mendez (Patchogue, N.Y./Patchogue-Medford) went all 10 frames for Southern New Hampshire, which entered the week with the second-best earned run average in Division II, the second-fewest hits yielded per nine innings, and the third-most strikeouts per nine. Mendez fanned 10, walked one and yielded two earned runs on six hits. Senior Kevin Spatkowski (Bristol, Conn./Bristol Eastern/UMass) and sophomore Brendan O'Brien (East Bridgewater, Mass./East Bridgewater) were each 2-for-5 with an RBI, while Spatkowski doubled.

During a 2-2 ballgame in the 10th, freshman Bryan Toland (Wildwood, N.J./Wildwood Catholic) walked with one down before O'Brien's two-out single to center moved the runner to third. Spatkowski then dropped a bunt with two out that began spinning foul before stopping just inside the third-base line on the soft dirt.

In the home half, senior Chadwick Estey (New Haven, Vt./Mount Abraham Union) singled with one down, but on a two-out grounder deep behind second base, junior shortstop Matt Boulter (Wrentham, Mass./Bishop Feehan) scooped up the ball and narrowly beat Estey to the bag for the final out.

Kelley worked out of a two-on, one-out jam in the first inning, beginning a run of setting down 11 consecutive batters, and carried a one-hitter into the fifth. With two down in the opening inning, Elderton drove his first collegiate home run beyond the right field fence, plating himself and sophomore Alec Tice (Chelmsford, Mass./Chelmsford), who had reached on a fielder's choice following classmate Nick Nelson's (Spofford, N.H./Keene) single.

The Penmen knotted the game in the fifth. After Toland's single put runners at first and second with one out, a wild pitch placed a pair in scoring position. A sacrifice fly brought home the first run, and O'Brien's two-out single into center field tied it. However, Kelley set down 13 of his final 14 batters, allowing only a one-out walk in the seventh, and Southern New Hampshire didn't pick up another hit until O'Brien's single in the 10th.

Saint Michael's threatened to plate the go-ahead run in the seventh inning, as Elderton doubled to the right-field gap leading off, and junior Collin Fishman (Bethesda, Md./Our Lady of Good Counsel) singled to shallow center to put runners at the corners. However, Mendez fanned the next batter before inducing an inning-ending double play.

The Purple Knights open a three-game home weekend set with Bentley University for a single game on Friday at 3:30 p.m. The Falcons are receiving votes toward both the NCBWA and New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association (NEIBA) regional polls this week.