WALTHAM, Mass. – Freshman left fielder Cameron Cruz (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton HS) lined a two-out, two-run walk-off single to left center in the bottom of the ninth to give Bentley University a wild 10-9 victory over American International College in the second half of a Northeast-10 Conference cross-divisional baseball doubleheader Sunday afternoon at DeFelice Field.
Bentley also took the first game, 5-3, behind the hitting and pitching of designated hitter Nick Neshe (Waltham/Waltham HS).The sophomore broke a 2-2 tie with a seventh-inning double and came in for a four-out save.
Cruz' game-winner, his fourth hit of the twinbill, accounted for the fourth lead change of the nightcap. The Falcons were up 5-0 before AIC struck for six runs in the seventh and another in the eighth. Bentley came back with three in the bottom of the eighth to go up 8-7, only to see the visitors regain the advantage with two in the top of the ninth.
In the bottom of the ninth, freshman right fielder Brandon Grover (Rocky Hill, Conn./Rocky Hill HS) reached on a one-out error. Neshe followed with a single to right center and a ground ball out put both in scoring position, setting the stage for Cruz' heroics.
Neshe and Cruz set the tables for Bentley's eighth-inning rally with a walk and double, respectively. A wild pitch allowed Neshe to score and a single up the middle from sophomore third baseman Mike Samko (Arlington/BB&N) plated Cruz with the tying run. After a ground out that moved Samko into scoring position, graduate student Mike Muir (Bridgewater/Xaverian Bros. HS) brought him home with a single to right center.
Samko and Cruz both had three hits and two runs scored in the second game, and Muir was 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
In the opener, with the score knotted at 2-2, Grover led off the seventh of the opener with a triple to right. Neshe followed with a double down the left field line, scoring Grover with the g0-ahead run.
Later in the inning, an RBI single to center by Samko brought in Neshe with the Falcons' fourth run and Samko scored on a single to right by Muir.
AIC got one run back in the eighth and had the bases loaded with two outs when Neshe got the call. He needed just one pitch to get out of the inning and stranded two more runners in the ninth. All told, the Yellow Jackets left 14 runners on base and were just 5 of 20 at the plate with runners on base.
Bentley grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first when Samko walked and scored on a single up the middle by grad student Ryan O'Connor (Newburyport/Newburyport HS). AIC answered in its next at bat and it remained a 1-1 game until Cruz hit his first career home run in the bottom of the fifth.
The Falcons' three-run bottom of the seventh was preceded by AIC scoring a tying run in the top half of the inning. Freshman second baseman Travis Seymour (Chicopee) led off with a double and scored on a squeeze after being sacrificed to third.
It was a big game for the Falcons' three graduate students as Muir and O'Connor both had two hits and Bill Sullivan (Carver/Carver HS) earned the win, his third of the year. He pitched 7.1 innings, struck out seven and allowed seven hits, three runs and two walks.
The sweep boosted the Falcons to 9-15 overall and 4-5 NE-10 while AIC dropped to 6-25 (1-15 NE-10).
Bentley will also be at home Monday afternoon for a 3:30 pm encounter with Merrimack.