Stonehill Clinches NE-10 Tournament Berth With Doubleheader Split Against Merrimack

Senior Zack Soulier earned his 23rd career victory today, matching the program record set by Billy Sittig, who pitched for the Skyhawks from 2003-06.

Soulier matches program wins record with 23rd career victory

EASTON, Mass. (May 2, 2014) – Stonehill College, ranked seventh in this week's NCAA Division II East Regional Rankings, clinched a berth in next week's Northeast-10 Conference Tournament with a doubleheader split today against Merrimack College in NE-10 Northeast Division baseball action at Lou Gorman Field. Stonehill dropped the opener, 3-2 in ten innings, before slugging out a 9-5 victory in game two.

Senior lefthander Zack Soulier (Milford, Connecticut/Jonathan Law) earned the win in game two, and in the process tied Stonehill's career wins mark of 23, set by Billy Sittig '06. Soulier improved to 8-2 this season after going 6.1 innings and giving up four runs (three earned) on eight hits while striking out five. Junior Armand Rugel (Middletown, Rhode Island/Middletown) picked up his 11th save of the season, as he pitched the final 1.1 frames without allowing a run.

Freshman third baseman Steven Lee (Braintree, Massachusetts/Braintree) had a breakout day at the plate for the Skyhawks, as he went 4-for-7 with a double, his first collegiate home run, and three RBI. Junior catcher Eric Schneider (Camarillo, California/Saint Bonaventure) went 4-for-8 with one RBI and three runs, while senior first baseman Anthony Pagano (Cranston, Rhode Island/Cranston West) was 3-for-9 with a triple and three RBI. Sophomore Chris Hoyt (Walpole, Massachusetts/Xaverian Brothers) added three hits, three runs, and a walk.

Junior Jim Duff (Garden City, New York/Garden City) pitched nine innings of two-run ball in game one, but did not earn a decision. Duff recorded eight strikeouts and did not issue a walk before giving way to Rugel, who took the loss after giving up a run in the tenth.       

Freshman Steve Lee went 4-for-7 at the plate today with a double, three RBI, and his first collegiate home run.

Merrimack was led offensively by sophomore third baseman Frank Crinella (Springfield, Massachusetts/Springfield Central), who went 6-for-10 with a double, a triple, two home runs, and three RBI. Senior second baseman Eddie Newton (North Billerica, Massachusetts/Arlington Catholic) was 3-for-8 with a run, while sophomore shortstop Mike Forgione (North Branford, Connecticut/North Branford) chipped in with two hits and two runs.

Merrimack 3, Stonehill 2 (10 innings) 

Stonehill came back from a two-run deficit late, before dropping today's opener in ten innings. Hoyt, Schneider, and senior outfielder Billy Karalis (Pawtucket, Rhode Island/Bishop Feehan) led the Skyhawks with two hits apiece, while Crinella and Newton paced the Warriors offense with a pair of hits each. Junior pitcher Tim Cashman (Rowley, Massachusetts/Bunker Hill C.C.) started on the mound for Merrimack and did not earn a decision despite going eight innings and allowing just two unearned runs to go with five strikeouts.

Merrimack plated the game's first run in the top of the third, as Newton led off with a single up the middle before eventually coming around to score on a fielder's choice. Cashman and Duff kept both offenses off the board until the eighth inning, when the Warriors doubled their lead on a sacrifice fly by freshman Cam DiSarcina (Shirley, Massachusetts/Groton).

Trailing 2-0 in the bottom half of the eighth, Stonehill put together a two-run rally to even the score. With two outs, Karalis beat out an infield single and Hoyt followed with a double, putting runners on second and third. Both Karalis and Hoyt came in to score on the next play, as an error in the Merrimack outfield allowed sophomore Brian Campbell (Franklin, Massachusetts/Mount Saint Charles) to reach second base. After Merrimack failed to score in the top half of the ninth, Stonehill had a golden opportunity to win the game, as the Skyhawks loaded the bases with no outs, but they were unable to push a run across.

The Warriors capitalized in the top of the tenth, taking a 3-2 lead on a two-out RBI single by sophomore Sean O'Neill (Norwood, Massachusetts/Norwood), before Stonehill went down in order to end the contest.

Stonehill 9, Merrimack 5 

Senior Anthony Pagano went 2-for-5 with a triple and three RBI in Stonehill's game two victory over Merrimack.

After being held to just two runs in the game one loss, the Skyhawks exploded for 15 hits and nine runs to earn both a doubleheader split and a berth in the NE-10 Tournament. Lee and senior shortstop Dan Fratus (Plymouth, Massachusetts/Plymouth North) led the offense with three hits apiece, while Schneider went 2-for-4 and Pagano added two hits and three RBI.          

Crinella posted a monster effort for the Warriors, as he went 4-for-5 at the plate with a double, two homers, and three RBI. Junior righthander Joe Carnevale (East Providence, Rhode Island/East Providence) took the loss after giving up five runs on eight hits in just 3.1 innings of work.

Merrimack jumped ahead in the top of the first on Crinella's solo shot, but the Skyhawks evened the score in the bottom half of the inning on an RBI single by Schneider.

Stonehill then took its first lead of the game the following inning, as Lee launched his first collegiate home run over the left field fence to put the Skyhawks ahead 2-1. Merrimack answered in the top of the third, as Crinella belted his second homer of the day, this time a two-run shot, to give Merrimack a 3-2 lead. The back and forth continued in the bottom of the inning, as the Skyhawks took their second lead of the contest on Lee's two-run double to left center.

Fratus gave the Skyhawks a two-run cushion with his RBI single to left center in the bottom of the fourth, but the Warriors got the run back the next half inning when Crinella stole second and scored on an errant throw from the catcher.

Stonehill kept pounding out hits, and eventually went up 6-4 in the sixth on an RBI single by Pagano, but Merrimack wouldn't let up, as they answered with a run in the top of the eighth.

The Skyhawks finally got some breathing room in the eighth, as Fratus drove in his second run of the day with a sacrifice fly, before Pagano plated two more runs with a triple to right center.

Stonehill (27-17, 16-9 NE-10) and Merrimack (21-20, 15-15 NE-10) will be back in action tomorrow with the finale of the three-game series at 1 p.m. Tomorrow will also serve as senior day for Soulier, Karalis, Pagano, and Charles DeFrancesco (Lincoln, Mass./Lincoln-Sudbury).

For the latest on Stonehill Athletics, follow the Skyhawks via social media on Twitter and Facebook. Fans can also download the Stonehill Skyhawks mobile app on iTunes and the Android Market.

Dowling Edges Stonehill, 5-4
February 23, 2014 Dowling Edges Stonehill, 5-4