Elderton's walk-off single caps late rally, Purple Knights split with Bentley

COLCHESTER, Vt. - Freshman Nicky Elderton (Shelburne, Vt./Rice Memorial) capped the Saint Michael's College baseball team's rally from a five-run deficit with a two-out, walk-off RBI single in the ninth for a 6-5 victory over regionally-regarded Bentley University in the second end of a twinbill on Saturday at Doc Jacobs Field. The Purple Knights, who were downed in the opener, 16-0, moved to 10-27 overall and 3-15 in the Northeast-10 Conference's Northeast Division. The Falcons are 25-21 and 10-7.

Elderton finished with two hits in the second contest, driving home the winning run after the Purple Knights scored four runs in the eighth inning to tie the game. Sophomore Alec Tice (Chelmsford, Mass./Chelmsford) was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a double, classmate Nick Nelson (Spofford, N.H./Keene) had two hits and two runs, and senior Bryan Geary (Milton, Vt./Milton/Skidmore) added two knocks. Classmate Austin Ziskie (Chevy Chase, Md./Bethesda-Chevy Chase) tossed the first eight innings before sophomore Corey Livingston (Hartford, Conn./East Catholic) earned the win with a scoreless ninth.

Senior Greg Baggett (East Bridgewater, Mass./East Bridgewater) was 4-for-4 with two runs and a home run for the Falcons, who are receiving votes toward a pair of New England polls, while junior Jeff Croteau (Auburn, Mass./Auburn) went the first 7.1 innings. Classmate Lamarre Rey (Lynn, Mass./Pingree School) yielded the final run on two hits in 1.1 frames, taking the loss.

Down 5-1 into the eighth, Saint Michael's strung together five hits in the inning, plating four runs to tie the contest at five. Tice and senior Chadwick Estey (New Haven, Vt./Mount Abraham Union) both ripped one-out RBI doubles, with Estey plating the fourth run, and sophomore Chris Puliafico (Sharon, Mass./Sharon) scoring the tying run on an outfield miscue following Estey's knock.

Sophomore Sean Keady (Norwood, Mass./Norwood) bunted for a hit with one down in the top of the ninth, but Livingston proceeded to pick him off before retiring the final batter on a fly ball. In the home half, freshman Don McGuirl (Warwick, R.I./Saint Sebastian's School) drew a full-count walk with two down, Tice singled through the left side, and Elderton plated McGuirl with the winning run by singling a 2-2 pitch through the right side.

Bentley scored in each the second through fifth innings, with Baggett's fifth-inning solo shot providing a 5-0 lead. The next batter reached, but Ziskie picked him off, and the Falcons had only three base runners in the final 4.1 innings. Tice grounded out to plate Nelson in the sixth, and Puliafico's double to deep right leading off the seventh was the Purple Knights' first hit since Nelson led off the contest with a single. Geary singled and stole second with one down, but Saint Michael's left two in scoring position prior to its big rally.

Tice walked and singled in the opener as one of five Purple Knights with one hit. Also among them was sophomore Nick Barton (Colchester, Vt./Colchester), who picked up his first collegiate hit. Junior Collin Fishman (Bethesda, Md./Our Lady of Good Counsel) took the loss, allowing three earned runs in four innings.

Five Falcons had three hits apiece, as the visitors totaled 20 hits, among them 11 for extra bases. Baggett was 3-for-4 with three runs, a double and two triples, and graduate student Bryant Johnson (Hopedale, Mass./Milford) homered. Classmate Rob Finneran (Garden City, N.Y./Garden City) allowed two hits while striking out 11 in six innings for the win, and freshman Connor Root (Nashua, N.H./Nashua North) went the final three frames for the save, being aided by a seventh-inning triple play.

Bentley did all of its scoring between the third and eighth innings, totaling between one and four runs in each frame. The Purple Knights' had two golden opportunities to get on the board, including when McGuirl and Tice drew consecutive one-out walks in the first. In the seventh, junior Jacob Begnoche (Essex Junction, Vt./Essex) and senior Ben Mitchell (Pembroke, N.H./Pembroke Academy) singled to begin the frame, but the next batter hit a sinking liner to first baseman Rey, who caught the ball, tagged the bag and tossed to the shortstop to complete the triple play.

Purple Knights host nationally-ranked Franklin Pierce University on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. The Ravens are 21st in this week's National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) poll.