MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – The Felician University baseball team fought back from a seven-run eighth-inning deficit, only to lose in 10 innings, 14-13, to Franklin Pierce University during the Northeast Challenge event on Thursday night at the Ripken Experience complex.
Felician (0-5) was playing for the first time in 11 days, while Franklin Pierce was competing in its opening game of 2018. The Golden Falcons are ranked No. 4, and the Ravens No. 6, in the preseason NCAA Division II East Region writers' poll.
Thursday's game lasted four hours, 20 minutes. The teams combined for 35 hits, including for 16 for extra bases. Eight Felician pitchers yielded 19 hits, issued nine walks and a hit batsman, and allowed seven steals.
Senior shortstop Bruce Strickland (Hazlet, N.J.) and junior second baseman L.T. Struble (Hammonton, N.J.) were among four Golden Falcons with three base hits. Strickland doubled and tripled, and Struble had a triple and scored four runs. Felician senior Matt Diesel (Massapequa Park, N.Y.) and junior Danny Healey Jr. (Brookhaven, Pa.) each went 3 for 6 with a double and three runs batted in.
John Friday (Southborough, Mass.) hit a pair of two-run home runs and Brad Roberto (San Diego, Calif.) was 4 for 7 and drove in the game-winning run for the Ravens.
FPU built a 9-5 lead after six frames. Struble tripled to start the seventh and scored on Diesel's groundout, but the Ravens, the designated home team, answered with four runs in the bottom of the seventh, highlighted by a two-run double from Adam Chase (Bridgewater, Mass.), for a 13-6 edge.
The Golden Falcons rallied for six two-out runs off in the top of the eighth, with FPU using four pitchers to get through the stanza. When Jason Polgano (Bronx, N.Y.) laced a two-run double and Healey followed with a two-run single, Felician had pulled within 13-12.
Cristian Morales (Spring Valley, N.Y.) worked around a pair of walks to retired the Ravens in the eighth. Sean Downey (Elizabeth, N.J.) led off the ninth with a walk and Brenden Cuni (New Rochelle, N.Y.) doubled. Pinch-runner Rahul Prince (Pomona, N.Y.) was thrown out at the plate on a ground ball, but Cuni moved up and would score on Strickland's tying sacrifice fly. Raven left fielder John Duffy (Stratford, Conn.) then laid out to catch Struble's bid for a go-ahead hit.
Struble entered to pitch from his second base position to obtain the final out of the ninth and force extra frames. With two outs, in the 10th, Healey doubled but was ruled to come off second base and was tagged out.
With one out in the bottom of the tenth, Raven sophomore James Boria (Massapequa, N.Y.) reached on an infield hit and moved up on a passed ball. Struble (0-2) recorded a strikeout, but Roberto pushed a single through the left side to end the game.
Freshman right-hander Zachary Player (East Hampton, Conn.) pitched a scoreless top of the 10th and earned the victory for FPU. Boria finished 3 for 6, and Stephan Octave (New Windsor, N.Y.) was 2 for 5 with a home run.
Felician faces a quick turnaround on Friday, facing Mercy College at 10 a.m., followed by nationally-ranked Southern New Hampshire University at approximately 1 p.m., at Ripken Experience.