WALTHAM, Mass. – A walk-off double to right center by Bentley University senior second baseman Mike Samko (Arlington/BB&N) scored graduate catcher Nathan Littman (Abington/Abington HS) with the winning run, completing a three-game sweep of Saint Anselm College and securing a berth in the Northeast-10 Conference championship tournament for the Falcons Friday afternoon at DeFelice Field.
The 12-11 victory in game two of Friday's NE10 Northeast Division twinbill followed a 10-5 victory in the opening game and came after Saint Anselm erupted for five runs in the top of the ninth to create an 11-11 tie.
Bentley entered the series needing to win two more games than Stonehill and one more than Assumption in order to qualify for the postseason. All were accomplished with three wins over the Hawks (including 16-4 Thursday afternoon), two losses by Stonehill to Merrimack and a 15-2 Assumption loss to Southern New Hampshire.
In the bottom of the ninth, Littman led off with a walk and advanced into scoring position with a passed ball. Samko, who had previously extended his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 34, smoked a drive into right center with Littman easily scoring to end the game.
Bentley had built a seemingly comfortable 11-6 lead with a run in the third, five in the fifth, two in the seventh and three in the eighth. However, Saint Anselm (11-28, 5-16 NE10 Northeast) took advantage of five hits, a costly Falcon error, a sacrifice fly and a walk to draw even. The tying markers scored on a two-out single to center by junior center fielder Oscar Larranaga (Tucson, Ariz.).
The Falcons, after trailing 2-1, grabbed a 6-2 lead in the fifth with their second five-run inning of the day. The big blow was a three-run homer to left by sophomore center fielder Luke Figueira (Taunton/Taunton HS). It was the third of the series for the sophomore center fielder, who finished the game 3-for-5 with five RBI.
Figueira was also a factor in the three-run eighth as he knocked in two with a single and scored the third on a single by freshman DH Charlie Auditore (Walpole/Walpole HS).
Bentley's 15 hits included three apiece by Littman and Samko, as well as Figueira. Littman and junior left fielder Gino Fordiani (Sudbury/Lincoln-Sudbury Reg. HS) each scored three times.
In the opener, coach Bob DeFelice's team broke a 5-5 tie by erupting for five runs in the bottom of the eighth. Auditore started things with a one-out single through the left side, sophomore third baseman Jake Pierce (East Bridgewater/East Bridgewater HS) reached on a single just out of the reach of the first baseman, and Littman broke the deadlock with an RBI single to right.
After a steal of second by Littman, an intentional walk to Samko and a pitching change, junior right fielder Brandon Grover (Rocky Hill, Conn./Rocky Hill HS) had a sac fly to make it 7-5. Sophomore first baseman Ryan Berardino (Sudbury/Lincoln-Sudbury Reg. HS) followed with a two-run single and Fordiani capped the inning with an RBI single.
Bentley totaled 14 hits in the opener with Littman producing 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. He finished the doubleheader 6-for-8 with five runs scored and four RBI.
The Falcons also received two hits apiece from Pierce, Grover, sophomore shortstop Chris Hopkins (Malden/Malden Catholic HS) and Auditore.
The NE10 Championships will get underway Tuesday evening with Bentley facing top-seeded Southern New Hampshire on the road.