EAST BOSTON, Mass. – The Suffolk baseball team earned it second GNAC split, falling to Rivier, 2-1, in the opener, before capturing an identical win in the closer Saturday at East Boston Memorial Park.
GAME 1: SUFFOLK 1 RIVIER 2
Back-to-back one-run innings in the first and second were all the Raiders (7-19, 2-4) needed to take Game 1 from the hosts. Suffolk (20-6, 4-2 GNAC) got its offense going in the fifth and had two chances at home, but was tagged out both times.
Tyler Ferdinand led off with a double down the left line and Brandon Thibault followed with a walk to set up Taylor Black. Black's sacrifice bunt moved the runners over and Drew Neely brought in Ferdinad to give Rivier an early 1-0 edge. Worth Walrod did not let the visitors build a large advantage, however, as the southpaw struck out the next two batters, both swinging, to end the inning.
After the Rams were retired in order, the Raiders scored their second run of the day. Michael Janerico and Jeremy Ball drew walks and Thibault singled to the shortstop to load the bases. Black hit one right to Jake Frasca, but the freshman second baseman bobbled it, allowing Janerico to cross home and move the score to 2-0.
Six half innings came and went and things became interesting in the bottom of the fifth for Suffolk with two outs. Kevin Belskie walked and Matt Brenner's single to right field moved him over. The runners each advanced on a wild pitch and Sean Cameron loaded the bases as the junior drew a walk. Belskie came in on Chant's lofty single to left field. Brenner rounded third and had the green light to go in for the score, sprinting in the tying run towards home plate, but was tagged on the slide to keep the hosts in a 2-1 hole.
Walrod faced three and sat down three in the sixth as a thrilling bottom half of the inning ensued. Rivier made two quick outs to start things off, but a walk by Jon Lapolla kept things going. During Frasca's at bat against the Raider's new arm, Spener Aguiar, Lapolla sniped second and took third on a wild pitch. With a runner in scoring position and a full count, Frasca took a huge swing, but missed as the score held at 2-1 in the Raiders' favor.
Suffolk kept things at 2-1 in the top of the first behind Cal Carrol on the mound and went into the bottom determined for the comeback. Drew Carter started things off with a single, but was tagged out at second on Belskie's bunt. Zach Grogan came in to run for Belskie, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch during Brenner's at bat. As Brenner shot a line drive up the first base line, Grogan tagged and took off to home, but did not make it in time as both runners were called out and the game ended, securing the 2-1 win for Rivier.
Brenner (2-for-3) led the Rams at the plate as the only Suffolk batter collecting multiple hits. Chant had the blue-and-gold's only RBI with Belskie earning Suffolk's lone run.
Walrod, who threw 6.1 innings, gave up two runs (one unearned) on five hits and struck out four. The sophomore moved to 4-1 on the mound, his first setback of the season.
Designated hitter Neely's (2-for-3) two hits and one RBI paced Rivier's offense with Ferdinand and Janerico responsible for the Raiders' two runs. Black also earned a RBI in the victory.
Matt Keefe sealed his first win on the bump with 5.2 innings of work, one run on four hits, three walks and four Ks. Aguiar tallied the save, his fourth of the year, tossing 1.1 innings, giving up two hits and punching out one.
GAME 2: SUFFOLK 2, RIVIER 1
Similar to the opener, the runs scored in the first two innings would be the difference, but this time it was Suffolk that had its bats going. All it took for the Rams to break open the scoring was two at bats. Chant started things off with a monster triple to left field, his seventh of the season, setting up Seth Coiley nicely. On Coiley's connection, the Raiders went to get out the runner, but third baseman Ferdinand missed his opportunity, making an error on the play and Chant took advantage to put Suffolk on the scoreboard.
In the next half for Suffolk, Luke Ronchi and Julien Plana singled to put themselves on the corners, before Brenner came through with an RBI knock, that ended in a double play at first and second, respectively, but gave the Rams' a 2-0 cushion. Rivier answered back in the top of the third, capitalizing on a Suffolk error, but would not get any closer down the stretch.
Chuck Gibson (3-1), who started his fifth and appeared in his sixth game, went the first six and allowed just one run on five hits. The junior struck out five and was relieved by Carroll, who earned his seventh save of the year, with one inning of work.
Chant put together a 2-for-3 showing at the plate, while Ronchi was a perfect 2-for-2, each scoring run for Suffolk. Coiley and Brenner brought the runs in for the Rams.
Nicolas Pica (2-3) threw a complete game for the Raiders, allowing two runs on eight hits. Neely paved the way offensively, producing two hits and scoring Rivier's only run.
Looking ahead, Suffolk takes its talents to Norwich tomorrow for a double feature scheduled for a 1 p.m. first pitch. Rivier will also be back in action tomorrow with the Raiders hosting Johnson and Wales in a twin bill scheduled to start at 1:05 p.m.