Ravens Baseball walks-off during a Friday special

by Andrew Hoenig

The Ravens’ Baseball team trotted out onto Pappas Field on a cold and cloudy spring day in. Fans were scarcely to be seen in the bleachers as the first pitch was delivered, with the rain still drizzling down.

A couple Ravens fans are wrapped up and ready to support their team (Photo: Andrew Hoenig)

It did not seem at all like a day for two teams to be playing America’s favorite pastime with the dreary overcast and wet pregame field conditions.

Nonetheless, both the Ravens (13-8-1) and the Merrimack College Warriors (8-9) dueled on Good Friday, March 30.

The Ravens started off as cold as the air was, falling behind 3-0 to the visiting Warriors after three innings of play. The few fans behind the Franklin Pierce dugout were wrapped in blankets and it seemed like the Ravens didn’t want to come out from whatever warm shell they were hiding in until halfway through the game.

Spread out around the field were FPU students who were taking part in an ESPN workshop with expensive looking cameras just waiting to get some sort of story narrative that could portray their home team in a good light. But instead the fans behind the Merrimack dugout seemed to be having all the fun as they celebrated the Warriors lead.

The Merrimack dugout was also loud, until the Ravens started to take off in the bottom of the 6th inning.

“We just wanted the guys to play tough,” said head coach Mike Chambers. “We got down early and things didn’t look good.”

Senior infielder John Friday, who played at third base in the game, started the Ravens off, sending his third home run of the season cracking off the bat and out of the park deep to right field, making it a 3-1 game.

Two batters later, senior catcher Stephen Octave launched another homerun with first baseman Mike Coggeshall on base, tying the game at three apiece.

John Amendola pitched seven innings and struckout eight batters. The right-hander allowed just seven hits and three runs in his sixth mound appearance of the season. It didn’t look pretty at times with Merrimack’s bats connecting with seemingly every pitch to start off in the first three innings but Amendola gathered himself and put together a solid outing over the remainder of his start.

The fans started trickling in late, however, with plenty of coffees in hand as the Ravens started to taste a potential come-from behind victory.

But the skies turned an even darker shade of gray and Merrimack scored in the top of the eighth inning to lead it 4-3.

On this Good Friday though, John Friday was not done providing heroics for his team. The senior managed to get on base in the bottom of the eighth inning and after Octave singled to right centerfield, Friday came home to tie it 4-4.

Both dugouts could now be heard chirping and fans on both sides started jeering and cheering as the crowd grew to a final tally of 136, with everybody just hoping their team’s relief pitchers could strike out the next batter.

After a scoreless ninth, the Ravens and Warriors went into extra innings to decide what had now become a hot, high-energy matchup between the two conference rivals.

Junior reliever Anthony Matarazzo pitched an inning and two-thirds, including the top of the tenth, which proved to be key because the subsequent Ravens batting rotation would be it’s last of the day.

Junior outfielder Brad Roberto pounded a double-base hit, and Friday came up to bat one last time.

After what seemed more like a catcher’s error than a wild pitch, Roberto moved into position at third base with Friday at the plate and no outs.

Friday swung and connected once again, sending the ball to the right fielder who made the out. But Roberto tagged third and made a break for home base. The throw to home was in-time but the catcher was off the plate.

John Friday was the hero who jump started the Ravens offense in the 6th inning and hit the sacrifice fly that drove in the winning run in extra innings (Photo: Andrew Hoenig)

Roberto was able to slide underneath the attempted tag by Merrimack catcher Ricky Smith and safely tag home, and then…

Pandemonium!

The Ravens stormed the field, rushing out to congratulate Friday and celebrate the team’s walk off victory as fans’ clapped and raised their fists in excitement.

After his team’s 5-4 walk-off win, Chambers said, “We pulled it out in the end and it was just what we needed right now to get going and get a spark with the offense and get the offense going with those homeruns [by Friday and Octave].”

The young students in the ESPN workshop had gotten their narrative – Thank God It’s Friday.

 

 

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