Baseball Is Back Over .500 With Sweep Of Mercy

Ronnie Grant hit two home runs and drove in five runs in Game 1 of an Apr. 8, 2016, sweep of Mercy. (Steven R. Smith)
Ronnie Grant hit two home runs and drove in five runs in Game 1 of an Apr. 8, 2016, sweep of Mercy. (Steven R. Smith)

DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. – Felician University used strong starting pitching and a combined 22 base hits, including nine for extra bases, in winning both ends of its non-conference, metal-bat baseball doubleheader from host Mercy College, 10-5 and 6-4, on Friday afternoon at Mercy Field.

Felician improved its overall record to 16-15, moving over the .500 mark for the second time this season.

Sophomore outfielder Matt Diesel (Massapequa Park, N.Y.) was 5 for 8 with three runs scored and three runs batted in on the day for the Golden Falcons. Diesel had a double and a triple in each game.

In Game 1, Diesel was 3 for 4 with two RBI and junior designated hitter Ronnie Grant (Burlington, N.J.) went 3 for 4 with two home runs and five RBI. Their efforts backed the starting pitching of junior right-hander Matt Blandino (Bristol, Conn.) (4-2), who won his fourth consecutive start.

Felician jumped out to a 7-0 lead after four innings. Grant's RBI single and Diesel's two-run double produced a three-run second-inning rally, and the first collegiate home run for Grant, a two-run shot, capped another three-run uprising in the top of the third. Grant hit his second two-run round-tripper of the contest in the eighth.

Blandino gave up an unearned run in the sixth, and departed after six innings with a 7-1 lead. He allowed one hit, struck out four batters and walked none. Bruce Strickland (Hazlet, N.J.) and Jason Polgano (Bronx, N.Y.) were each 2 for 5 to add to Felician's 13-hit attack. Junior designated hitter Randal Mendez (New York, N.Y.) had a double and an RBI for Mercy (9-17).

Game 2 was scheduled for seven innings. Polgano (4-0) started as the Golden Falcons' pitcher/designated hitter and contributed on both sides of the ball. On the mound, he worked five innings and gave up one run on one hit, with four strikeouts and no walks. He also went 2 for 4 with a double and scored a run.

Felician steadily built a 5-0 lead, tallying single runs in the second, third, and fourth innings before scoring twice on a Maverick throwing error in the fifth. Mercy received an RBI groundout from Liam Slattery (Floral Park, N.Y.) in the bottom of the fifth, but Polgano left the mound with a 5-1 lead.

The Golden Falcons scratched across an insurance run in the top of the seventh on Grant's run-scoring groundout. The extra tally proved important when Mercy brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh. The Mavericks saw their first three batters reach on base hits, including an RBI single by Bryan Gutierrez (Bronx, N.Y.) and a run-scoring triple from Mendez.

Felician closer Danny Naif (Jackson, N.J.) came on and yielded a sacrifice fly to James Waters (Troy, N.Y.), pulling Mercy to within 6-4. Naif recorded a strikeout, but then gave up a walk and a single, putting runners at the corners. A stolen base placed the tying run at second, but Naif induced a ground ball back to him to end the game, picking up his Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference-high fourth save of 2016.

Senior Ralph Caccavale (Massapequa, N.Y.) and junior Brennan Price (Middlesex, N.J.) (two walks) joined Diesel and Polgano with two hits apiece for Felician. Mercy sophomore Nick Arcabascio (Brooklyn, N.Y.) was 2 for 4 with a double.