HAVERHILL, Mass. – Nick Bragole (Newburyport, Mass.) chose a dramatic moment for his first collegiate home run. The freshman swatted a two-out longball in the top of the 11th inning to snap a tie and eventually send the Saint Anselm College baseball team to a 6-5 victory against Merrimack College at Haverhill Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Hawks, who knocked off 26th-ranked Franklin Pierce University, 11-10, with a three-run eighth inning Thursday, kept the heart-pounding good times rolling to improve to 8-11 on the season, including 2-0 in both the Northeast-10 and the Northeast Division. The Warriors, who had won four of their last five, drop to 10-7, 4-2 NE-10, 0-1 NE-10 NE.
Saint Anselm nearly did not make it to the 11th inning as the Warriors had something brewing in the bottom of the 10th with the game tied, 5-5. Freshman Autrey Gates (Pembroke, N.H.) relieved sophomore Seve Llanio (Glen Arm, Md.) with one out and a runner on second. Gates issued a walk and induced a groundout to put two on with two out before picking off Frank Crinella to end the threat.
In the 11th, sophomore Ken Morrisino (East Longmeadow, Mass.) reached via a one-out single, but was then thrown out attempting to steal second. That is when Bragole came through and mashed his first home run in a Saint Anselm uniform.
Gates earned his first collegiate win after tossing a 1-2-3 bottom of the 11th. Gates (1-1) worked 1.2 scoreless and hitless innings, striking out one and walking one. Llanio, meanwhile, pitched a scoreless and hitless inning with a strikeout, as part of a bullpen that did not allow a run and gave up just two hits, while striking out four and walking one over the final 3.2 innings.
The teams were locked in a pitching duel through the first five innings until the Hawks touched up Merrimack starter Joe Carnevale for five runs in the sixth. Junior Joe Morin (Salem, N.H.) made it 1-0 with a run-scoring single before an RBI fielder's choice from senior Matt Wojichowski (Portsmouth, R.I.) and an RBI double from sophomore Thomas Murphy (Chelmsford, Mass.) pushed the lead to 3-0. Morrisino's two-out, two-run single did more damage and staked Saint Anselm to a 5-0 advantage.
The Warriors then finally reached Saint Anselm sophomore starter Tom Hudon (Merrimack, N.H.) in the bottom half of the inning as it used an error and an RBI single from John Pastyrnak to cut it to 5-2.
Freshman Christopher Bunero (Budd Lake, N.J.) entered for Hudon to start the seventh and gave up a leadoff walk to Mike Forgione, but made Crinella hit into a 4-6-3 double play to clear the base paths. Merrimack started from scratch, however, using a Sean O'Neill single and Dionys Quezada double to put a pair in scoring position. Then Eddie Newton reached on an error to plate an unearned run that made it 5-3.
Sophomore Terrence Walsh (Milton, Mass.) came in for Bunero with runners on first and second with one out. He allowed back-to-back singles – the second of which came off the bat of Crinella and plated two runs to knot the game at 5-all.
Hudon went 6.0 innings and gave up two runs – one earned – on seven hits, while striking out five and walking one. Bunero was charged with three runs – one earned – on two hits, to go along with a walk and strikeout over 1.1 innings. Walsh was credited with a scoreless inning, allowing two hits and fanning a pair.
Bragole went 2-for-6 with the home run, RBI and run scored. Morrisino was 2-for-3 with two RBI and a pair of walks, while Murphy went 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored.
The Hawks return to action Sunday, March 30 against Merrimack in doubleheader action beginning at 1 p.m. from Haverhill Stadium. Stay up-to-date with the latest news, including game previews and recaps, directly from the Saint Anselm College athletic department by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter @STAHawks.