MANCHESTER, N.H. – Senior Daniel DeCoste (Chelmsford, Mass.) hit a grand slam in the sixth inning that helped the Saint Anselm College baseball team earn an 8-4 victory against Southern New Hampshire University on Friday afternoon in an NCAA East Regional matchup at Penmen Field.
The fourth-seeded Hawks, who win their first NCAA Regional game ever, improve to 29-24-2 on the season, while the top-seeded Penmen improve to 39-13. The Hawks will meet second-seeded Le Moyne College on Saturday at 3 p.m., with both teams facing elimination from the six-team double elimination tournament, while the Penmen take on the loser of Friday night's Franklin Pierce University/Wilmington (Del.) University game Saturday at 11 a.m.
The Penmen snapped the scoreless deadlock in the fifth with a pair of unearned runs. Jamie Wollerman got aboard with a one-out single and went to second when Bryan Toland reached on an error. Both runners advanced on Tyler Poisson's single to right, but Wollerman came around to score when the fielder overran the ball. SNHU made it 2-0 when Brendan O'Brien stung one to second that junior Richie Manzi (Plymouth, N.H.) made a nice diving stop on, getting up to record the out at first, but Toland came across the plate.
The Hawks finally answered and received the timely hit they have needed in the sixth. After sophomore Tito Lluberes (Lawrence, Mass.) led off the frame with a single to right, Manzi legged out his bunt attempt and junior Robert Kelly (Aurora, Colo.) walked to load the bases with no one out. DeCoste followed by driving a pitch over the fence in left for a grand slam that gave Saint Anselm a 4-2 lead.
SNHU tied it in the eighth when Andy Lalli drew a two-out walk and then scored when Jon Minucci followed by crushing a home run to left-center.
Saint Anselm answered in the bottom half of the inning by sending nine to the plate and putting up another four-spot against the Penmen. Sophomore Dan Lagasse (Londonderry, N.H.) jump-started the rally by drawing a one-out walk and then stealing second. Freshman Mike Hayden (Cranston, R.I.) followed with a single that deflected off the first baseman's glove and into left field, allowing Lagasse to score the go-ahead run.
The Hawks were not finished, however, as sophomore Nate Gonya (Wolfeboro, N.H.) walked and pushed classmate Kyle Grumoli (So. Hadley, Mass.), who pinch ran for Hayden, to second. Senior Jeffrey Criscuolo (Durham, Conn.) then walked to load the bases before junior Rett Ostafin (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) struck out for the second out of the frame.
Lluberes followed with a bases loaded walk that made it 6-4 before Manzi grounded into the hole at short and beat out the throw. Gonya easily scored, but heads-up baserunning by Criscuolo netted the Hawks a second run that made it 8-4.
That would be more than enough as senior Neil Hesek (Northboro, Mass.) set the Penmen down in order in the ninth to earn the win. Hesek (6-4) worked the final four innings, giving up two runs on two hits, while striking out five and walking one. Classmate Timothy Cooney (E. Bridgewater, Mass.) started and went the first five innings, allowing two runs – none earned – on three hits, while striking out three and walking a pair.
Brad Monroe started for the Penmen and pitched very well until the sixth. He went 5.1 innings, allowing four runs on eight hits, while striking out two and walking two. David Gibson (3-2) relinquished three runs on a hit and four walks, while also striking out a pair over two innings. Tyler Gauthier worked the final 0.2 innings, giving up a run on a hit, while walking a pair and striking out a batter.
Manzi and Lagasse were each 2-for-3; Manzi drove in a pair, while they each scored a run. DeCoste was 2-for-4 with four RBI and a run scored. Gonya and Criscuolo were each 1-for-3 with a run, while Lluberes and Hayden each went 1-for-4; both drove in a run, while Lluberes scored once.
The Hawks return to action Saturday, May 19 at 3 p.m. when they meet up with Le Moyne in an NCAA East Regional elimination game at Penmen Field.