Senior Mitchell Powers (Portland, Maine) fired a perfect game in the opener of Tuesday's doubleheader, as the Southern New Hampshire University baseball team took two wins from Saint Michael's College to clinch the Northeast-10 Northeast Division at Penmen Field. SNHU blanked the Purple Knights, 2-0, in the first game, before rolling to a 10-1 victory in the nightcap.
Powers' perfect game was the second nine-inning perfect game of the season. Incredibly, this is the first time two separate nine-inning perfect games have happened in the same season of DII baseball. And both perfect games? They came from NE-10 teams.
The Penmen win the division for the second straight year and for the third time in five seasons. As the top seed in the Northeast, SNHU will play host to the division's No. 4 seed in the first round of the NE10 Championship on Tuesday, May 8.
Sophomore Tom Blandini (Bow, N.H.) was 3-for-6 with three walks, an RBI and three runs scored in the doubleheader. Senior Kyle Pangallo (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; RBI) and freshman Dakota Mulcay (Goffstown, N.H.; two walks) were both 2-for-7.
Southern New Hampshire moved out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning of game one without the benefit of a hit. After three of the first four batters drew a walk to load the bases, sophomore Jake Coro (Johnston, R.I.) hit a ground ball to second that went as a 4-6 fielder's choice to score Blandini, but it quickly turned into a double play when graduate student Thomas Buonopane (Peabody, Mass.) rounded third and was thrown out at the plate trying to tack on a second run.
The Penmen would add a second run in the second inning and again did so without the aid of a hit, as Saint Michael's committed a pair of errors. Grad student Taylor Olmstead (Greenwich, Conn.) was hit by a pitch before stealing second and moving to third when the catcher's throw skipped away. After redshirt-sophomore Joshua Goldstein (Haverhill, Mass.) drew a two-out walk, he stole second, with the shortstop throwing to the plate to try and get Olmstead, who had broke from third, but his throw went into the dirt and did not enable the catcher to grab it cleanly.
Powers continued to set down the Purple Knights, with Nick Dorcean coming out of the bullpen to match him in the bottom of the third. Dorcean would hit a batter in the fourth, issue a walk in the seventh and give up the first Penmen hit – a Mulcay single through the right side – in the eighth, but kept SNHU off the board, as it stayed, 2-0, into the ninth.
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Powers picked up a strikeout swinging, induced a grounder to third and then made it 27 up and 27 down when he battled back from down 3-1 to strike out the No. 9 batter swinging and reach perfection.
Powers (4-2) struck out 11 of the 27 batters he retired in order.
Mulcay was 1-for-3 with a walk in the game. Blandini finished 0-for-1 with three walks and scored a run, while Olmstead went 0-for-1 and scored a run, as he was twice hit by a pitch. Buonopane was 0-for-2 with a pair of walks.
In the second game, playing as the visiting team after rain forced the cancellation of a meeting at Saint Michael's last week, SNHU again jumped out to a 1-0 lead, but in a more traditional manner this time. Blandini led off the game with a single to center and immediately scored when Buonopane smacked a double to left-center on the next pitch.
So this Mitch Powers who pitched a perfect game today for @SNHU ... in 1981, working for Portland Press Herald, I covered his dad Marc Powers’ perfect game in NE Babe Ruth Tournament at Goodall Park, Sanford, Maine. Crazy. https://t.co/eSNwCPJvX2— Steve Buckley (@BuckinBoston) May 2, 2018
The Penmen doubled their lead in the second when sophomore Ethan Harris (Middleton, Mass.) hit a two-bagger to left-center, advanced to third on a single through the left side by junior Joshua Zbierski (Stafford Springs, Conn.) and scored on Olmstead's sacrifice fly to left.
Joe Robertson sliced the Saint Michael's deficit in half in the fourth with a one-out homer to left off redshirt-junior Jake Walkinshaw (Seymour, Conn.).
It was all Southern New Hampshire from there, however, with a sac fly from redshirt-senior Ryan Sullivan (Hopkinton, Mass.) making it 3-1 in the fifth, before the offense exploded for a seven-run seventh. A double down the left field line from Goldstein began the trouble, with Blandini making it worse by lining a shot that the centerfielder charged in and dove for, but did not come up with, allowing Goldstein to score and Blandini to stand on third with a triple.
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Following a walk to Buonopane, an infield single from Sullivan scored Blandini to make it 5-1, before a double-steal one batter late put a pair in scoring position. Buonopane then attempted a straight steal of home, but a catcher's interference and balk call allowed the batter to reach and moved both runners up safely. Three pitches later, Zbierski blasted a 2-0 offering into orbit over the fence in left and it was quickly 9-1. Olmstead capped the scoring when he walked, stole second and scored on a Pangallo base hit to left.
Blandini turned in a 3-for-5 performance, knocking in a run and scoring two more. Pangallo went 2-for-4 with an RBI, with Zbierski going 2-for-5 with three RBI and a run. Buonopane (walk, RBI, run) and Goldstein (walk, two runs) were each 1-for-2, while Sullivan (two RBI, run), Mulcay (walk) and Harris (two runs) were all 1-for-4.
Walkinshaw (4-0) enjoyed his longest outing of the season, allowing one run on three hits, while striking out eight and not issuing a walk in six innings of work. Junior Hayden Manning (Portland, Conn.) walked one and struck out one in a hitless seventh. In the eighth, redshirt-freshman Zachary Merchant (Lunenburg, Mass.) gave up a hit and a walk, while punching out the side. Freshman Jeffrey Praml (Bridgewater, N.J.) tossed a perfect ninth, striking out a batter.