WALTHAM, Mass. – The third hit of the afternoon for sophomore designated hitter Ryan Berardino (Sudbury/Lincoln-Sudbury Reg. HS) was a walk-off, driving in graduate catcher Nathan Littman (Abington/Abington HS) and giving Bentley University a 5-4 11-inning win over Pace University in Northeast-10 Conference baseball Sunday on DeFelice Field.
With their third extra-inning win of the season, the Bob DeFelice-coached Falcons improved to 11-12 overall, 5-3 in conference games and 10-7 against East Region opponents. Pace, which had rallied with two runs in the ninth to force extra innings, dropped to 12-9-1 overall and 6-5 NE10.
Littman began the 11th-inning rally with a one-out single to center. Following a pitching change, Littman moved into scoring position when senior third baseman Mike Samko (Arlington/BB&N) was hit by a pitch. Thomas Ippolito (Randolph, N.J.) got a strikeout for the second out before Berardino delivered the game-winning hit with his single to center.
Bentley carried a 4-2 lead into the ninth and was a strike away from closing out the victory following a pair of strikeouts from freshman righty Jimmy Cunningham (Chatham, N.J./Chatham HS). However, a 3-2 pitch went the wrong way with freshman outfielder Matt Almonte (Randolph, N.J) drawing a walk to load the bases. Senior shortstop Paul Piccolino (Staten Island, N.Y.) followed with a two-run single, knotting the game at 4-4 and forcing extras.
The Falcons scored twice in the fourth for a 2-1 lead. Berardino followed a double from freshman second baseman Charlie Auditore (Walpole/Walpole HS) with an RBI single and scored on another two-bagger, this one from sophomore center fielder Max Troiani (Pittsford, N.Y./Pittsford Mendon HS).
Pace tied the game in the fifth when senior first baseman Matthew Kurdewan (Neptune, N.J.) led off with a home run to left.
Bentley reclaimed the lead on an RBI double by junior first baseman Brandon Grover (Rocky Hill, Conn./Rocky Hill HS) in the sixth and made it a two-run game on an RBI single by Auditore in the seventh.
Bentley, which outhit the Setters 14-9, received three apiece from Berardino, Troiano and Littman, along with two each from Grover and Auditore. All three of Troiano's were doubles, tying the school record, and as a team, the Falcons had eight two-baggers, the team's most since 2002.
Graduate lefty Evan Walsh (Arlington/Arlington Catholic HS), earned the victory with 2.1 innings of no-hit relief. He walked three and struck out the same number.
Bentley is back in action Wednesday with a divisional home against Stonehill.