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Rindge, N.H. – Junior Angelo Bruno (Norwalk, Conn.) drove in the game’s eventual winning run in the top half of the ninth inning with a double down the leftfield line as fourth-seeded Stonehill College defeated second-seeded Franklin Pierce University, 5-4, in the Northeast-10 Championship Final Sunday afternoon at Dr. Arthur & Martha Pappas Field.
Bruno earned Most Valuable Player honors for his performance during this year’s championship.
With the win, Stonehill improves to 29-16 and receives the Northeast-10’s automatic qualifying to the upcoming NCAA Division II Tournament. Franklin Pierce is now 36-14-1 and should be lock for a NCAA at-large bid.
Franklin Pierce jumped out to the game’s first lead in the bottom of the second inning when senior Cody Kauffman (Blue Bell, Pa.) ripped a single down the leftfield line scoring freshman Dan Kemp (Sturbridge, Mass.).
Stonehill answered in its next at-bat to even the score at 1-1 when junior Brendan Shepard (Boxford, Mass.) hit a sacrifice fly scoring Rob Von Stein (Trumbull, Conn.) who hit a triple to center to get into scoring position.
Stonehill took its first lead of the game in the top of the sixth after junior Scott Hackett (Bangor, Maine) drilled a two-run home run to right field scoring senior Mitch Davis (Bow, N.H.) in the process to give the Skyhawks a 3-1 lead.
Franklin Pierce quickly responded and regained the lead with a three-run sixth inning. Junior Mike Munoz (Bronx, N.Y.) and seniorPhil Hendricks (Pittsfield, Maine) led the inning off with back-to-back single before sophomore Isaac Wenrich (Westlawn, Pa.) hit a two-run double to leftfield.
Stonehill tied the game in the top half of the seventh with Von Stein advancing to third and later scored on wild pitches by Franklin Pierce.
For the Skyhawks, starter Matt Olsen (Winchester, Mass) went 5.1 innings but didn’t factor in the decision. Von Stein pitched 3.2 innings of relief and picked up his third win of the year. He limited Franklin Pierce to only three hits, while striking out six. Shephard recorded his fourth save of the year after pitching the tenth inning and striking out the final two Raven batters to secure the victory.
Franklin Pierce’s Rob Nichols (Southborough, Mass.) went six innings and didn’t factor in the decision as he struck out six batters while surrendering three runs.
With 16 member institutions the Northeast-10 shares the distinction of being the largest Division II conference in the country along with the PSAC and WVIAC. Its 23 championship sports provide athletic opportunities for over 5,500 student-athletes, the largest such program of any Division II conference.