NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- The No. 10 Southern New Hampshire University baseball team salvaged the third game of the three-game season series with Merrimack College Thursday afternoon, posting a 7-5 Northeast-10 victory at Warrior Diamond. The Penmen upped their record to 31-10 overall and 18-5 in the NE-10, while the Warriors are now 17-17 and 11-12 in the league.
Tyler Fortanascio finished 2-4 at the plate and knocked in a pair of runs, while Al Stanton also had a pair of hits. Four players had two hits apiece for Merrimack, with Matt Brown also knocking in a pair of runs.
Sam Fuller earned the win for the Penmen with an inning of scoreless relief, allowing one hit and notching a strikeout. Benjamin Criscuolo worked the final two innings for his ninth save of the season, striking out four. His nine saves are a program single-season record, eclipsing the eight recorded by Alex Powers in 2012 and 2013.
SNHU starter Derrick Sylvester went six innings and allowed eight hits and five runs (three earned) while notching eight strikeouts, including the 200th of his career. He becomes the fourth pitcher in program history with at least 200 career strikeouts.
Southern New Hampshire trailed 5-4 heading into the seventh inning when it scored once in the seventh to tie the game, then twice in the eighth to take the lead. In the seventh, Brendan O’Brien led off with a double, then after a Manny Cruz walk, O’Brien scored on a throwing error on a sac bunt attempt by Mike Mastroberti. The Penmen had two in scoring position with no outs, but Merrimack’s Tyler Cuming worked out of the jam by recording a groundout and back-to-back strikeouts.
In the eighth, Fortanascio started the inning on an infield single and after moving over on a Bryan Toland sacrifice, scored on a single up the middle by Kyle McGinnity. McGinnity made it 7-5 when he scored on a pair of errors on a ball hit by O’Brien.
Merrimack, which held 1-0 and 2-1 leads before SNHU tied the game twice, broke open the game with a three-run fourth highlighted by Brown’s two-run single. Southern New Hampshire pulled within 5-4 in the sixth when Fortanascio’s two-run double brought home Stanton and Alejandro Diaz (Old Bridge, N.J.).
SNHU got on the board in the third when Toland worked a leadoff walk and scored on an error. In the fourth, Diaz reached on a one-out single and scored on Toland’s double to the gap in left-center.
Both teams had 10 hits on the afternoon, but Merrimack committed five errors. The Warriors also stranded 13 runners on the day.