CARY, N.C. (March 11, 2018) – In need of a shutdown pitching performance to keep a seven-game trip to North Carolina from spiraling out of control on Sunday, the Franklin Pierce University baseball team turned to ball over to junior Anthony Matarazzo (Medford, Mass.), who made his first start of the year after opening the season as the team's closer. The right-hander delivered at the USA Baseball National Training Complex, as he fired 100-plus pitches over 8.1 innings of five-hit ball and struck out six. For their part, the bats responded with nine runs on 13 hits as the Ravens posted their biggest win of the season thus far, with a 9-3 triumph over No. 7/12 nationally ranked St. Thomas Aquinas, the defending East Region champion.
With the win, Franklin Pierce improves to 7-5-1 and snaps a three-game losing streak, while St. Thomas Aquinas falls to 9-4 with the loss.
St. Thomas Aquinas opened the scoring on Sunday with an unearned run in the top of the first. Senior shortstop Joseph Pena led off with a single, moved to second on a passed ball, and came around to score three batters later when junior catcher Cris Ruiz reached on an error.
Franklin Pierce responded immediately and took the lead for good with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the first. Junior left fielder Brad Roberto (San Diego, Calif.) led off with a single, stole second and scored two batters later on an RBI double by senior second baseman John Friday (Southborough, Mass.). Friday would score two batters later on a two-out, RBI single by graduate student first baseman Mike Coggeshall (Shrewsbury, Mass.).
The Ravens pushed the lead out to 3-1 with a run in the bottom of the fourth. Roberto started things again, this time with a one-out walk. He stole second, before Friday walked and senior catcher Stephen Octave (New Windsor, N.Y.) was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Coggeshall then drew a bases-loaded walk to force home Roberto.
Two more runs in the bottom of the sixth made it a 5-1 game. Friday socked a one-out double and moved to third as Octave reached on an error. Coggeshall chalked up his third RBI of the day with a single to score Friday. Two batters later, sophomore designated hitter Dylan Jones (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) cashed in Octave with an RBI double.
Franklin Pierce seized control of the game with a four-spot in the bottom of the seventh to grow the lead to 9-1. Sophomore third baseman J.R. DiSarcina (Barnstable, Mass.) singled leading off, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI single by sophomore left fielder Jack Duffy (Stratford, Conn.). Duffy then went first-to-third two batters later, on a one-out single by senior right fielder Adam Chase (Bridgewater, Mass.), and scored on an RBI single by Friday. Three batters later, sophomore shortstop James Boria (Massapequa, N.Y.) came to the plate with the bases loaded and two out, and he cashed in both Chase and Friday with a two-run single to make it an eight-run game.
St. Thomas Aquinas picked up two runs in the top of the ninth to create the 9-3 final. Senior left fielder Mark Shkrelja led off with a single and moved to second on an error by Matarazzo. After sophomore third baseman Nicholas Lucchese was hit by a pitch, back-to-back RBI hits rounded out the game's scoring. Senior right fielder Giovanni Dingcong brought home Shkrelja with an RBI double, before Ruiz plated Lucchese with an RBI single.
The single chased Matarazzo from the contest just two outs shy of the complete game. Sophomore right-hander Derek Duffy (Farmington, Conn.) came on and retired the only two batters he faced to wrap things up.
Matarazzo (1-0) provided exactly what the Ravens needed on the hill on Sunday afternoon. He fired 8.1 innings, allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits, walked one, hit a batter and struck out six. It was Matarazzo's first outing of more than three innings since a May 21, 2016 appearance against St. Thomas Aquinas in the NCAA East Regional. It was also his longest outing since a complete-game effort at Assumption on April 23, 2016.
Sophomore right-hander Angelo Baez (1-1) started and threw only the first inning on the mound for St. Thomas Aquinas, before remaining in the game at second base the rest of the way. In his one inning of work, he allowed two runs on four hits, walked one, struck out two and was tagged with the loss.
Franklin Pierce is currently scheduled to wrap up the trip to North Carolina with a two-game series at Mount Olive on March 12-13. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. both days at Scarborough Field in Mount Olive, N.C., but the series schedule is subject to change, pending the weather in the area.
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).