WALTHAM, Mass. – Junior right-hander Connor Root (Nashua, N.H./Nashua HS North) recorded his team-leading sixth win of the season and senior Nate Witkowski (Melrose/Malden Catholic HS) earned the save as Bentley University held off Assumption College, 4-3, in Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division baseball Saturday afternoon at DeFelice Field.
The win moved the Falcons to within a half-game of first in the Northeast and kept Bentley's hopes of a divisional title alive. A win over Assumption in Sunday's series finale (1:00, home) and a victory at Franklin Pierce Monday in the final game of the regular season would give the team a number one seed in the upcoming conference championships.
Root, who retired the first 11 batters he faced, allowed seven hits and two walks before giving way to Witkowski after two batters in the ninth. He struck out five with the win his sixth in eight decisions. Root's career winning percentage (11-5, .688) is the second best in program history for a pitcher with at least 15 decisions.
Bentley (22-15, 13-6 Northeast) grabbed a 1-0 lead in the third inning. Senior right fielder Sean Keady (Norwood/Norwood HS) reached on an infield single and stole second (the 114th of his career) before scoring on a single to center by senior shortstop Will Brennan (Locust Valley, N.Y./Locust Valley HS). For Brennan, it was his ninth hit in his last ten at bats.
The Falcons made it a 2-0 game in the fourth when junior center fielder Mike Muir (Bridgewater/Dighton-Rehoboth HS) led off with a single to right center and eventually scored on a bases-loaded walk to freshman first baseman Justin Ashworth (Orange, Conn./Amity Regional HS).
With the lead standing at 2-1, Bentley picked up some much-needed insurance in the bottom of the eighth, two unearned runs making it a 4-1 contest. Senior right fielder Tom Nagy (Fairfield, Conn./ Ludlowe HS) scored on a passed ball and Muir came in from third on a throwing error.
In the Assumption ninth, following a lead-off walk, freshman first baseman Mike Coggeshall (Shrewsbury) doubled in pinch-runner Michael Panza (West Haven, Conn.), cutting the lead to 4-2. Witkowski was brought over from third to relieve Root and he gave up an infield single to the first man he faced, sophomore catcher Tom Paine (Upton) to put runners on the corners with no outs.
Following a strikeout for the inning's first out, pinch-runner Ryan Connelly (West Roxbury) scored the Hounds' third run on a grounder to short that the Falcons were unable to turn into a double play. That brought senior Ysander Figueroa (Worcester), the conference's co-leader in home runs, to the plate and Witkowski struck him out looking to lock up the victory.
Both teams finished with eight hits with the Muir (2-for-4 with two runs scored) the only Falcon to have more than one.