May 10, 2013

BASEBALL HAS SEASON ENDED BY MERRIMACK, 4-3, IN NORTHEAST-10 CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS

West Haven, Conn. – Starting pitcher Junior Vasquez struck out seven batters over six innings and designated hitter/relief pitcher Joe Mantoni worked out of a bases-loaded jam to lead fourth-seeded Merrimack College to a 4-3 win over the third-seeded Le Moyne College baseball team on Friday afternoon in an elimination game of the Northeast-10 Conference Championships at the University of New Haven's Frank Vieira Field.

The Dolphins opened the game's scoring with two runs on two hits in the bottom of the third inning. Graduate student designated hitter Matthew Ciraco (White Plains, N.Y./Perkiomen School) drew a walk on six pitches with one out and advanced to second on a single to left field by senior third baseman Zack Wiley (Toluca Woods, Calif./Crespi). After a line out and a double steal by Ciraco and Wiley, graduate student shortstop Ryan Mahoney (Clay, N.Y./Cicero-North Syracuse) singled through the left side to drive in Ciraco and Wiley.

Merrimack (29-18) cut its deficit in half with a run on one hit and two Le Moyne errors in the fourth inning. Designated hitter/pitcher Joe Mantoni doubled to right center with one out and then moved to third on a throwing error by the pitcher on a pickoff attempt. After a ground out, center fielder Mark O'Flynn reached on a throwing error by the second baseman, which allowed Mantoni to score.

The Warriors took the lead with three runs on four hits in the top of the fifth inning. Right fielder Sean O'Neill led off with a double to right center and then took third on a bunt single by catcher Pat Florence. Northeast-10 Conference Player of the Year Casey Cotter followed with a triple to center to drive in O'Neill and Florence with the go-ahead run. Shortstop Mike Forgione then singled to center to knock in Cotter.

Le Moyne (25-24) trimmed its deficit to 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning with one run on three hits. With one out, Ciraco and Wiley recorded back-to-back singles to left field. Following a walk by junior center fielder Pat Wiese (Fayetteville, N.Y./Christian Brothers Academy), Mahoney singled to right field to plate Ciraco and force a Merrimack pitching change. After Mantoni took over on the mound, he recorded consecutive strikeouts to get out of the bases-loaded jam.

After freshman first baseman Pat Wright (Liverpool, N.Y./Liverpool) threw out Northeast-10 Conference Rookie of the Year Frank Crinella at the plate after catching a foul out by Mantoni to end the top of the eighth inning, junior left fielder Nate Reynolds (Johnson City, N.Y./Maine-Endwell) reached on an error with one out and graduate student second baseman Vincent Redmond (Ithaca, N.Y./Lansing/Garrett College) followed with a single up the middle, but Mantoni induced a fly out to right and a pop out to the second baseman to end the threat.

Wiese led off the bottom of the ninth with a single down the left field line and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mahoney, but was stranded at second after Mantoni induced a broken-bat line out to the shortstop and got a swinging strikeout on a full count to end the game.

Sophomore righty Zach Place (Towanda, Pa./Towanda/Susquehanna), making just his third start of the year and his first since March 17, took the loss after giving up four runs (three earned) on five hits over five innings, while striking out six. Mahoney registered three of Le Moyne's nine hits and drove in all three runs, while Wiley had two hits. Vasquez earned his third win of the season after yielding two runs on four hits and five walks over six innings. Mantoni earned his eighth save and his second of the day after striking out three over two and two-third innings, while yielding just two hits.