MANCHESTER, N.H. (April 18, 2017) – Junior first baseman Dalton Davis (Birmingham, Ala.) seemed certain he had kept his foot on the bag. The Franklin Pierce infield seemed certain he had kept his foot on the bag. The Franklin Pierce dugout and head coach Mike Chambers seemed certain he had kept his foot on the bag. The one who was uncertain he had kept his foot on the bag was the one who mattered: base umpire James Dion, who observed the scene from the middle of the infield.
The call came: "safe".
Davis reacted in visible astonishment. Senior second baseman Kyle Hood (Arlington, Mass.) stood with his hands on his head in disbelief. Chambers came out to object. A discussion ensued, as Dion went to confer with the plate umpire, Michael Finn.
The call stood: "safe". Replays would show it was incorrect.
It all added up to the beginning of a disaster for the Franklin Pierce University baseball team on Tuesday night at Penmen Field. One run scored on the call, which also allowed the inning to continue. The next batter cracked a two-run single as a 2-2 tie turned into a 5-2 lead for No. 5/8 nationally ranked Southern New Hampshire in a span of two batters. It was all downhill from there for the Ravens, who also surrendered one in the sixth and two in the seventh to fall, 8-2, on the road in Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division play.
With the loss, Franklin Pierce falls to 22-11 (12-5 NE10, 8-3 NE Div.), while SNHU improves to 26-7 (12-2 NE10, 7-1 NE Div.). The win, combined with a 1-0 triumph at Franklin Pierce on April 5, allowed SNHU to claim the three-game season series between the two teams, who will meet again on May 2 at SNHU.
Things started well enough for the Ravens on Tuesday, as they put runners into scoring position in each of the first two innings before striking for a 2-0 lead in the top of the third. The frame started at the bottom of the order with freshman shortstop Joe Napolitano (Port St. Lucie, Fla.), who reached with an infield single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by senior center fielder Lucas Luopa (Keene, N.H.). Two batters later, junior third baseman John Friday (Southborough, Mass.) clubbed a double deep into the gap in left-center field to open the scoring. Junior catcher Stephen Octave (New Windsor, N.Y.) followed and dumped an RBI single into center field to plate Friday.
SNHU would set about tallying its eight unanswered runs with a pair in the bottom of the fourth inning to tie the game at 2-2. Junior shortstop Kyle Pangallo started things with a one-out single to left-center, setting the table for senior designated hitter Derek Bauer. Bauer unloaded on the fifth pitch of the at-bat and drove a 3-1 pitch the other way, over the fence in the left-center field power alley for a two-run home run, his fifth of the season.
The aforementioned bottom of the fifth inning would serve as the game's turning point, as the Penmen plated a trio of unearned runs to take a 5-2 lead. Junior left fielder Caleb Potter was hit by a pitch leading off and moved around to third two batters later when sophomore second baseman Kyle Ruth shot a double down the left-field line. Two batters later, the lineup flipped back to the top for graduate student third baseman Zach Goldstein, who came to the plate with two outs and the runners still at second and third.
Goldstein bounced to third on the second pitch for what appeared to be an inning-ending groundout. Instead, Friday's throw forced Davis to stretch, and the former would be charged with a throwing error after Dion ruled Davis had left the bag. Potter scored on the play to give the Penmen the lead, and then Goldstein stole second to put two in scoring position for Pangallo. Pangallo worked the count full before drilling the seventh pitch of the at-bat into the hole on the left side of the infield. Napolitano got to the ball, but could not come up with it, as the shot went for a two-run single to further open the lead.
SNHU tacked on a run in the sixth and two more in the seventh to add some insurance and create the 8-2 final. In the sixth, Potter drove a solo home run -- his second of the season -- to left-center field with one out. In the seventh, Goldstein and Pangallo reached on a single and a walk, respectively, to open the inning. Later, with two outs, sophomore right fielder John Stanton hit a hard ground ball right at Friday, after narrowly avoiding being rung up on a check swing. However, the ball took a tough hop, sprung over the shoulder of Friday and escaped into left field for a two-run single.
Making his longest start of the year thus far, junior right-hander Mike Lundin (Kingston, Mass.) took the ball on Tuesday for Franklin Pierce and threw 81 pitches, but just 49 strikes, over five innings of work. He was charged with five runs on five hits, walked one, hit two batters and struck out five while taking the loss (2-2).
On the other side of the ledger, junior right-hander Mitchell Powers (3-2) went the distance against Franklin Pierce for the second time this season. The Ravens were able to put together more offense against him this time around, though it was still not enough. Powers surrendered two runs on seven hits, walked one, hit a batter and struck out 11.
The Ravens return to the field on Saturday, April 22, when they return home to host Stonehill in an NE10 Northeast Division doubleheader. First pitch is set for noon at Pappas Field in Rindge.
For more information on Franklin Pierce Athletics, please visit the official website of Franklin Pierce Athletics (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu). Also be sure to follow the Ravens through the Department of Athletics' official Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/FranklinPierceRavens), its YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/franklinpiercesports) and its Twitter feed (http://twitter.com/FPUathletics). Fans wishing to purchase Franklin Pierce baseball apparel can do so at the Department of Athletics' online store (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu/store).