NORTH ANDOVER — Trailing by five runs after the first inning of game one, the Merrimack baseball team kept calm and responded with four runs in the bottom of the fourth, as the Warriors rallied all the way back to take the opener, 9-6, before sweeping a doubleheader against Pace with a 5-0 shutout in game two yesterday afternoon at the Warrior Baseball Diamond.
Moving to 18-6 and adding to one of the best starts to a season in program history, the Warriors will round out the weekend with a Northeast-10 Conference cross-division doubleheader today against Adelphi starting at noon. The Setters fell to 16-9 on the year after the losses.
Senior Joe Mantoni capped the first-game comeback with a go-ahead, three-run homer in the bottom of the fourth to give the Warriors a lead they’d never relinquish.
Mantoni’s three RBI tied freshman Sean O’Neill for most on the team, while senior Casey Cotter continued his outstanding year with a four-hit performance and scored two runs to back reliever Junior Vasquez to a win in an outstanding relief appearance.
Vasquez entered with runners on base with just one out in the first, but the local product settled in and went on to pitch 5 2/3 innings of stellar, scoreless relief, scattering six hits while striking out a career-high seven batters and just two over that span.
In the second game, Merrimack took an early lead with three runs in the first and another in the second, and that was more than enough for sophomore ace Joe Carnevale , as the second-year righty dazzled once again on the mound to improve to 4-0 on the season, striking out nine and scattering four hits in seven innings.
Softball team splits
NORTH ANDOVER — After its furious late rally fell just short in game one, the Merrimack softball team settled for an afternoon doubleheader split by posting a 6-1 victory in the late game after dropping the opener, 6-5, against New Haven yesterday at the Warrior Softball Diamond.