MANCHESTER, N.H. – The 2018 Bentley University baseball season came to a heartbreaking end Tuesday night when top-seeded Southern New Hampshire University scored three times in the bottom of the ninth, the game-winner coming in on an error, to deny upset-minded and fourth-seeded Bentley University, 3-2, in the opening round of the Northeast-10 Conference Championships at Penmen Field.
Bentley, 20-21, carried a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth following standout performances by a pair of juniors from Connecticut, right fielder Brandon Grover (Rocky Hill, Conn./Rocky Hill HS) and right-hander Luke Dawson (Stamford, Conn./Westhill HS).
After five scoreless innings, Grover got the Falcons on the scoreboard in the sixth inning. Graduate catcher Nathan Littman (Abington, Mass./Abington HS) singled to left with one out and Grover doubled to right to produce the game's first run.
It stayed that way until the top of the ninth when Grover homered for the seventh time this season, this one clearing the center field fence for a 2-0 lead.
Dawson, who carried a three-hitter into the ninth, struck out the first batter of the inning before giving up a single to freshman catcher Dakota Mulcay (Goffstown, N.H.) and a two-run homer to left by senior right fielder Caleb Potter (Mentor, Ohio), his tenth.
Back-to-back singles by freshman center fielder Idelson Taveras (Lawrence, Mass.) and graduate outfielder Taylor Olmstead (Greenwich, Conn.), followed by an intentional walk, loaded the bases for the 34-13 Penmen. With the infield in, Dawson got a ground ball to short. However, the throw home was off the mark, allowing Taveras to score the game-winner.
Dawson struck out five, pushing his total to 95 while breaking the school record of 90 that Bill Sullivan had owned since last season. He walked three and allowed seven hits in his complete game effort.
The Falcons were limited to five hits by a pair of SNHU pitchers with both Grover and Littman each having two for the Falcons. Bentley senior second baseman Mike Samko (Arlington, Mass./BB&N) saw his streak of consecutive games reaching base halted at 34 as he was 0-for-4 in the season finale.
Senior Mitchell Powers (Portland, Maine) pitched the first seven for Southern New Hampshire before giving way to junior Jake Walkinshaw (Seymour, Conn.) for the final two. Powers struck out six and Walkinshaw, now 5-0 on the year, fanned three.
Southern New Hampshire will host Merrimack, New Haven and Le Moyne in the double-elimination portion of the tournament, beginning Thursday.