(Nashua, NH) The Rivier University Baseball season came to a thrilling end this evening as the Raiders mounted a seven run comeback in the eighth inning before coming up just short in the ninth as they lost 8-7 to Eastern Nazarene College on a beautiful night inside Historic Holman Stadium.
Freshman Nicholas Pica (Hampstead, NH) received the start on the hill for the Raiders and pitched effectively through five innings before being relieve due to a high pitch count. The young right-hander allowed five runs (three earned) over the five frames while striking out five and yielding three walks. Classmate Jon Chotkowski (Tewksbury, MA) tossed four chairs in his two innings of relief before sophomore Lucas Palma (Bristol, CT) finished the game allowing two runs after a two-out error in the ninth.
Trailing 6-0 entering the bottom of the eighth inning, the Raiders began their comeback. Rivier received three straight singles from freshman Taylor Black (West Springfield, MA), Marc Medeiros (Arlington, MA) and Jeremy Ball (Swanzey, NH). Ball's single brought home Black for the first Raider run. Seniors Aramis Velez (Lowell, MA) and John DiBenedetto (Tampa, FL) followed with a hit and walk, respectively, which allowed another run to cross the plate. Both sophomores Michael Scanlon (Plantsville, CT) and Bryar King (Berlin, NH) added RBI at bats before the first out of the inning was made. Freshman Nick Gagnon (Providence, RI) followed with his own RBI base on balls as did Black in his second plate appearance of the inning. With two outs, Ball knocked in his second RBI of the inning as he earned a 3-2 walk that brought home the seventh run and gave Rivier a 7-6 lead.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, they were unable to make the game ending play as Eastern Nazarene capitalized on the extra out and won the game 8-7.
Velez finished his illustrious Rivier career with a 2-for-5 night – the two hits gave him 43 on the season which tied a Rivier record for hits in a single season with Adam Bailey who did it in 2001. Scanlon and Medeiros were the other Raiders to record multi-hit games as they also went 2-for-5. Ball went 1-for-4 with 2 walks as he and Medeiros set the new single season record for walks with 21.
This marked the end of the season for both teams as the Raiders finished with an 8-30 overall record. Once you look past the record, it was one of the most successful Baseball seasons in Rivier history as they played 38 games for the first time and had 20 of the 38 games decided by 4 runs or less.
With 23 of the 27 student-athletes returning for 2014, the Raiders should be ready to improve even more than they did in 2013.