Rindge, N.H. – Senior Shane Franz (Cazenovia, N.Y.) ripped a single up the middle in the bottom of the eighth inning to drive in the game’s winning run as #4 Stonehill College defeated #6 Merrimack, 3-2, in day three action of the Northeast-10 Baseball Championship Saturday afternoon at Dr. Arthur & Martha Pappas Field on the campus of Franklin Pierce University.
With the win Stonehill improves to 28-16 and will advance to the championship round tomorrow. Merrimack is now 21-18 and will play the winner of tonight’s Franklin Pierce/Southern Connecticut contest at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning in an elimination game.
Trailing 2-0 entering the eighth inning Stonehill put together a three run rally highlighted by an Angelo Bruno (Norwalk, Conn.) two-run double that tied the game at 2-2. Two batters later Franz singled up the middle to score Bruno as the Skyhawks captured its first lead of the game.
Merrimack scored its second run in the second inning when sophomore PJ Farnham (Andover, Mass.) singled to center field as fellow classmate Ray Walker (Lowell, Mass.) scored on the play.
Stonehill’s Joe SantaBarbara (Danvers, Mass.) picked up his first win of the season after pitching an inning of relief. Junior Brendan Shepard (Boxford, Mass.) picked up the save as he struck out the final two batters to earn his third save of the season.
For Merrimack, starter Mike Laracy (Weymouth, Mass.) scattered five hits through seven innings of work and struck out a game-high six batters.
With 16 member institutions the Northeast-10 shares the distinction of being the largest Division II conference in the country along with the PSAC and WVIAC. Its 23 championship sports provide athletic opportunities for over 5,500 student-athletes, the largest such program of any Division II conference.