SOUTHERN NEW HAMPSHIRE POWERS PAST #16/21 BASEBALL, 4-3, IN NCAA EAST REGION CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Manchester, N.H. – Righty Alex Powers struck out five batters in three and one-third scoreless innings out of the bullpen as Southern New Hampshire claimed the NCAA East Region championship with a 4-3 win over the #16/21 nationally-ranked Le Moyne College baseball team on Sunday afternoon at Penmen Field.
Le Moyne, which won the Northeast-10 Conference Championship last weekend, finishes its first season back at the Division II level with a 43-15-1 record. Southern New Hampshire, playing in its first NCAA Regional, advances to the NCAA Division II Championships in Cary, N.C.
The Dolphins started the game's scoring with a run on two hits in the top of the first inning. Senior center fielder Brett Botsford (Baldwinsville, N.Y./C.W. Baker) led off the game with a single up the middle and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by junior right fielder Zack Wiley (Toluca Woods, Calif./Crespi). After a single to left by senior third baseman Matt Marra (Brewerton, N.Y./Central Square), junior shortstop Ryan Mahoney (Clay, N.Y./Cicero-North Syracuse) lifted a sacrifice fly to center to plate Botsford from third.
Southern New Hampshire, the top seed in the regional, evened the score at one apiece in the bottom of the second on two hits. Right fielder Jon Minucci led off with an infield single and moved to third on consecutive ground outs to the first baseman. First baseman Riley Palmer then tripled to right center to drive in Minucci.
Le Moyne regained the lead in the top of the third with a run on two hits. Botsford started the frame with a double down the left field line and then stole third, his 30th of the year, the third-most in the program's history. Wiley, a member of the East Region All-Tournament Team, followed with a double to left field to knock in Botsford.
The Penmen knotted the score for the second time with a run on two hits in the fourth inning. As he did in the second inning, Minucci led off the frame with a single to the left side of the infield. After a single by left fielder Greg Pezzuto through the left side and a sacrifice bunt, Minucci scored on a wild pitch.
The Dolphins answered right back in the top of the fifth with one run on two hits. With one out, Botsford singled to left field, his 82nd hit of the season, the second-most in the program's history (Jeff Justice had 87 in 2004). Wiley followed with a single to right to move Botsford to third, where he scored from on a sacrifice fly to center by Marra, the 141st run batted in of his career, which moved him into fourth place in the program's history.
Southern New Hampshire tied the score for the third and final time with a run on one hit in the bottom of the fifth. Catcher Kevin Spatkowski, the East Regional Most Valuable Player, started the rally with a double to center field with one out. After a walk by shortstop Matt Boulter and a hit batsman, Minucci flied out to center to knock in Spatkowski.
Sophomore left fielder Pat Wiese (Fayetteville, N.Y./Christian Brothers Academy), a member of the all-tournament team, drew a walk and stole second to start the top of the sixth, but was stranded at second as Powers came out of the bullpen to get the final out of the inning.
The Penmen took the lead in the bottom of the sixth with one run on one hit and a Le Moyne error. Second baseman Jamie Wollerman led off with a single to left field and moved to second as Palmer reached on an error by the pitcher on a sacrifice bunt attempt. After a successful sacrifice bunt by third baseman Bryan Toland, all-tournament center fielder Brendan O'Brien was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Spatkowski then drew a walk on four pitches to force in Wollerman with the winning run. The Dolphins avoided further damage as junior righty Kevin Carroll (Jamesville, N.Y./Fabius-Pompey) came out of the bullpen to induce an inning-ending double play.
After Powers retired the side in the seventh and struck out the side in the eighth, he walked junior first baseman Paul Speicher (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury), an all-tournament member, to open the ninth inning. Speicher advanced to third on a pair of ground outs, but was stranded there as Powers induced a game-inning ground out to the shortstop.
Senior southpaw Mark Kuzma (Waverly, N.Y./Waverly) suffered the loss after giving up one run on one hit in one-third of inning pitched. Senior righty Ed Kohout (Clarence, N.Y./Clarence/Genesee C.C.), the winner of Friday's 17-4 victory over Dowling, yielded three runs on six hits over the first five innings, while striking out two batters. Powers, a first-team all-Northeast-10 selection, struck out five batters and got five ground outs to improve to 5-1 on the season.