RINDGE, N.H. – What a comeback! Down five entering their final at bat, the Bentley University Falcons erupted for a school record-tying 14 runs in the top of the ninth inning to stun nationally-ranked Franklin Pierce University, 17-8, in the second game of a Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division doubleheader Saturday afternoon at Pappas Field. The Ravens had taken the first game by the count of 13-4.
The 14-run ninth, which took approximately 45 minutes to play, featured a dozen Falcon hits (a school record for an inning) off five Franklin Pierce relievers, including three doubles and home runs from seniors Kevin Korwek (Madison, Conn./Daniel Hand HS) and Greg Baggett (East Bridgewater, Mass./ East Bridgewater HS). For Baggett, it was his third of the doubleheader and capped a 5-for-10, four-RBI afternoon. At one stretch, 13 straight Bentley batters reached and scored.
The huge inning, which tied a 31-year-old record for most runs, began with a lead-off single by sophomore third baseman Nate Witkowski (Melrose, Mass./Malden Catholic HS). Following a ground out, freshman center fielder Mike Muir (Bridgewater, Mass./Xaverian Bros. HS) singled and junior second baseman Logan Gillis (Merrimack, N.H./Lawrence Academy) doubled to right center for the first two runs. Korwek homered to left, bringing in Gillis and cutting the Bentley deficit to one.
Baggett singled through the left side, resulting in the first pitching change of the inning. Grad student Bryant Johnson (Hopedale, Mass./Milford HS) walked, junior first baseman Lamarre Rey (Lynn, Mass./Pingree School) had an infield single to load the bases, and sophomore shortstop Will Brennan (Locust Valley, N.Y./Locust Valley HS) evened the game at 8-8 with an RBI single through the right side.
After another pitching change, the man who started the inning, Witkowski, doubled down the left field line, scoring Johnson and Rey with the go-ahead runs. Bentley's second double-digit scoring inning of the week continued with RBI singles by sophomore center fielder Sean Keady (Norwood, Mass./ Norwood HS) and Muir, a failed pickoff attempt that allowed Keady to score, a walk to Gillis, a two-run double down the left field line by Korwek and Baggett's second homer of the game, and third of the day to center.
The recipient of the huge inning was junior righty John Yohe (Merrick, N.Y./St. Dominic HS), who went the distance for his third win of the season. He allowed 14 hits, but didn't walk anyone and struck out five.
Baggett's first homer came in the second, giving the Falcons a 1-0 lead which would last into the fifth when the Ravens, ranked 29th in Division II by Collegiate Baseball, erupted for four runs. Franklin Pierce added to its lead with three in the sixth, making it a 7-1 game. Witkowski and Keady had RBI in the seventh, bringing the Falcons within four at 7-3.
Bentley's 19 hits featured four by Korwek (four RBI) and three apiece from Baggett, Rey and Witkowski (3 RBI). Everyone in the lineup scored at least once, and seven of the nine crossed home plate at least twice.
In the opener, Franklin Pierce jumped out to a 5-0 lead after two and after the Falcons closed to within 5-3, broke it open with four more in the fifth and another four-run inning in the eighth. The 14-hit Raven attack was powered by center fielder James Roche (Arlington, Mass.), who was 4-for-5 with two doubles, three runs scored and two RBI.
Baggett and Rey both homered for the Falcons against Franklin Pierce lefty ace Jack Crawford (Montgomery, N.Y.), who entered the day with an 0.41 ERA and a .137 opponents' batting average. He gave up eight hits, including two apiece to Baggett and Witkowski, while striking out eight and boosting his record to 5-2.
Bentley finished the day 18-17 overall, including 18-10 against the East Region and 3-5 against the NE-10 Northeast Division. Franklin Pierce walked off the field at 22-12-1 overall and 4-3-1 Northeast Division.
After a total of 42 runs, 57 hits and six home runs in the doubleheader, the two clubs will conclude their three-game series Sunday with a 1 pm start at Franklin Pierce.