This Weekend in Division II — April 2, 2015

I was down at UConn yesterday, so I’m just catching up on what was a pretty exciting Thursday in the Northeast-10. Some key series openers, and for once, we can look forward to (almost) a full slate of games. It’ll be another weekend before the standings really start to take shape, but these are series we’ll probably be remembering come tournament time.

In the Midweek

On Monday, Bridgeport wrapped up a series win over Queens behind stellar relief from Rob Anderson. After 3, the Purple Knights trailed 3-2, and both pitching staffs were struggling to settle into the game. On came the junior, and all that changed. He finished the game with six hitless, walkless innings. Two hit batsmen were the only blemish on his entry in the box score, and Dave Egeland’s go-ahead RBI in the 5th gave him all the run support he needed. The win put Bridgeport at 4-3, good for 4th in the ECC. With their ballpark finally thawed out (Sacred Heart swept a doubleheader there on Thursday) and a four-gamer with 1-7 Mercy, they’re in good position to keep moving up.

In some early action in the Northeast-10, Saint Anselm and Assumption split an offense-heavy doubleheader, with the Hawks winning 10-4 in the opener, and the Greyhounds recovering for a 12-4 win in game two. The first contest was close early on (5-3 St. A’s after 3), but the Hawks pulled away in the middle innings. Assumption actually outhit them, 14-13, but they left 10 on base. That left the Greyhounds in search of their first win in nearly a month in the back end, and junior Anthony Perry delivered a big outing, giving up just two runs (one earned) on six hits in seven innings of work. He left with the game at 3-2, and Matt Murphy came in from short looking to finish it. He surrendered a run on a solo shot in the 8th, but the Greyhound offense went off in the bottom half. Nine runs, fourteen batters, three pitching changes, and a Mike Coggeshall before three outs were recorded. Murphy finished things up in the 9th to take the split. Some big days at the plate on both sides. Murphy was 6-9 and scored twice, and teammate Greg O’Donnell had a 5-9, two-double day of his own. For the Hawks, Nick Bragole, John Marculitis, and Mike Hayden all homered.

Marquee Series

After sweeping the series I highlighted last weekend, Stonehill moves on to an even bigger matchup with a visit to #3 Franklin Pierce. If Thursday’s series opener (an extra-inning, 6-5 win for the Ravens) is any indication, this’ll be another classic Northeast-10 battle. The hosts scored early and built a 4-0 lead after five, but the Skyhawks were getting their fair share of baserunners against Mike Lundin in the early going, and they broke through for 3 in the 5th. A two-run double from Christian Baglini drove Lundin from the game. Paul Fahey got out of the inning and quieted Stonehill’s bats for the next couple innings, allowing FPU to tack on an insurance run in the 7th. Down 5-3 in the 9th, the visitors rallied again. Fahey struck out the leadoff man, but after a Baglini single, Brian Campbell took a 3-2 offering deep to tie the game. In extras, both bullpens kept things quiet until the home half of the 11th. Ravens DH Chris LaVorgna got plunked to lead things off, then swiped a key base to get into scoring position. Up came Kyle Hood, who became the hero of the game when he lined a 1-1 pitch over the right fielder’s head to walk off with the Ravens’ 24th win. The two teams return to Pappas Field Saturday for a doubleheader to close out the crucial divisional series.

In the Northeast

The Northeast Division’s other matchups feature teams on opposite trajectories. In Manchester, Southern New Hampshire hosts Bentley. A year ago, Bentley took this series with some stellar pitching in what was one of the highlights of their season. In 2015, however, the Falcons are off to a tough 2-10 start. It includes a sweep at the hands of juggernaut Tampa, but also 0-3 showings against Rollins and Bridgeport. On the year, the Falcons’ ERA is more than double their opponents’. SNHU, on the other hand, has won seven straight since it last lost on March 5. The Penmen have done it with pitching, sporting a 2.15 team ERA and a staff K/9 rate of nearly 11 per game. Anything can happen in this conference, especially in a series between two teams who’ve hardly played since mid-March, but the numbers say SNHU keeps rolling at home this weekend.

Elsewhere, Merrimack hosts Saint Anselm at the Warriors’ home away from home, Trinity Stadium in Haverhill. MC’s been the better team on the year, but they’re taking the field for the first time since a crushing sweep at the hands of Stonehill last weekend. Saint A’s, on the other hand, has recovered from a 2-10 start to go 4-2 in their last six. With Franklin Pierce, SNHU, and Stonehill all looking good for playoff spots at the moment, this series is key for both teams’ hopes of playing in May.

In the Southwest

In a division that’s seen Pace run out to a surprising 4-1 start, Southern Connecticut and AIC feature in an all-New England matchup in New Haven. Southern took the series opener on Thursday, 15-11. With the Owls leading 9-1 after four, it looked like a snoozer, but AIC’s six-run 5th put things back in the balance. Nothing could stop the Owl offense, though, which just kept scoring and put the game away. AIC actually outhit Southern, 16-15, but seven errors killed the Yellowjackets. Owl center fielder Matt Burns finished with a 5-6, four-run day to lead the Owls. The two teams will wrap things up with a doubleheader sometime this weekend.

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