WALTHAM, Mass. – After closing out the regular season with seven straight victories and 12 wins in their last 14 games, the Bentley University Falcons will host Merrimack College Warriors in the opening round of the Northeast-10 Conference Baseball Championships Tuesday on DeFelice Field. First pitch is scheduled for 2 pm.
The winner of Tuesday's game will advance to the double-elimination portion of the championships, which will begin Thursday with the top surviving seed from the Southwest Division hosting.
Bentley, the number two seed out of the Northeast Division, has a 12-7 record on DeFelice Field this season but three of the losses have come against the third-seeded Warriors by scores of 3-0 Mar. 27, 11-0 Apr. 10 and 5-2 Apr. 24. Overall, the Falcons are 21-20 overall, including 21-10 since Mar. 11.
Division I-bound Merrimack, the defending champion, enters its final NE10 tournament with a 25-18 record after dropping five straight, including three in a row over the weekend to Southern New Hampshire.
Senior right-hander Cam Monagle pitched each of the games for Merrimack against Bentley and since he hasn't pitched since Apr. 30, projects to be on the DeFelice Field mound for the fourth time. In 26 innings against the Falcons this spring, he's allowed only 18 hits, two runs and two walks while striking out nine.
Bentley coach Bob DeFelice, who notched his 800th career win earlier this season, has both sophomore right-hander Evan Christopulos (Andover/ Andover HS) and junior lefty Lloyd Hill (Milton/ Milton HS) available to send to the hill.
Christopulos, 4-1 with a 3.11 ERA, has allowed only one earned run over 17 innings during his last two starts. During that stretch, he's struck out 11 without issuing a walk. Hill, over his last four starts, has allowed 11 hits and three runs in 23 innings of work. For the season, he's 2-1 with a 1.91 ERA and a .170 opponents' batting average.
Bentley's offense features junior center fielder Max Troiani (Pittsford, N.Y./Pittsford Mendon HS) and graduate second baseman Mike Samko (Arlington/BB&N). Troiani, two total bases away from reaching 100 for the season, is hitting .324 with 48 runs scored, nine home runs and 17 stolen bases. Samko follows with a .315 average and is on the brink of 200 hits for his career. He's the only player in the conference with both 100 putouts and 100 assists. Both are over .350 in divisional play.
Junior DH Ryan Berardino (Sudbury/Lincoln-Sudbury Reg. HS) and junior third baseman Jake Pierce (East Bridgewater/East Bridgewater HS) are both percentage points shy of .300 and junior left fielder Luke Figueira (Taunton/Taunton HS) follows at .287 with eight home runs. Senior first baseman Brandon Grover (Rocky Hill, Conn./Rocky Hill HS) is tied for third in the NE10 in RBI with 39.
The other regulars in DeFelice's lineup are senior right fielder Gino Fordiani (Sudbury/ Lincoln-Sudbury Reg. HS), sophomore shortstop Kyle Halloran (Hopkinton/Hopkinton/Worcester Academy) and junior catcher Christopher Butler (Danvers/BB&N). Fordiani was named the NE10 Player of the Week Monday and is hitting .325 in 80 at bats, Halloran is fourth on the team in runs scored (25) and Butler is fourth in the NE10 in runners caught stealing (14).
Monagle is the ace of the Merrimack staff with a 6-0 record and a 1.36 ERA in nine appearances. The leading hitter for the Warriors is third baseman Joey Porricelli with a .322 average, seven home runs, 35 RBI and 32 stolen bases.
In conference play, Bentley ranks second in the NE10 in hitting (.292), second in runs scored (6.8), fifth in ERA (3.43) and ninth in fielding (.960). Merrimack is fourth in batting average (.266), third in runs (6.0), second in ERA (2.46) and first in fielding (.977).
In the other first round games Tuesday, Southern New Hampshire is at home against Franklin Pierce, Southern Connecticut is at Adelphi and Pace is hosting Le Moyne. The Bentley-Merrimack winner will be pitted against the Adelphi-Southern Connecticut victor when the double-elimination phase of the tournament starts on Thursday.
Northeast-10 Conference Championships
Tuesday, May 7 – First Round (single elimination)
Game 1: #4 SW Southern Connecticut at #1 SW Adelphi (3:00 PM)
Game 2: #3 SW Le Moyne at #2 SW Pace (6:00 PM)
Game 3: #4 NE Franklin Pierce at #1 NE SNHU (11:00 AM)
Game 4: #3 NE Merrimack at #2 NE Bentley (2:00 PM)
Thursday, May 9, Friday, May 10 and Saturday, May 11
Game 5: Game 1 winner vs. Game 4 winner
Game 6: Game 2 winner vs. Game 3 winner
Game 7: Game 5 loser vs. Game 6 loser
Game 8: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner
Game 9: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 loser
Game 10: Game 9 winner vs. Game 8 winner
Game 11: If necessary.