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Franklin Pierce wins NCAA baseball regional
Franklin Pierce University baseball players celebrate their 5-1 win over Wilmington University in the NCAA East Regional Championship game Sunday at Southern New Hampshire Unviersity. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)
Franklin Pierce University pitcher Ryan Leach throws to a Wilmington University batter in the NCAA East Regional Championship game Sunday at Southern New Hampshire Unviersity. FPU won 5-1. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)
"He didn't really say anything to me, but I just knew he was going to be ready," said Derry's Mathieu of Leach, whose three-hitter in six-plus innings of relief carried Franklin Pierce University to a 5-1 victory over top-seeded Wilmington (Del.) on Sunday for the 2013 NCAA Division II Baseball East Regional championship on the campus of Southern New Hampshire University.
"It never gets old for me, but it gives me greater satisfaction knowing this group is going to a world series," said King. "This is a tight group that worked hard to get here and I'm happy for them."
"We lost to Le Moyne in the semifinals and getting bounced earlier than we expected just didn't feel good," said Mathieu. "We thought about that feeling when we started this season back in October, getting up at six o'clock in the morning for our lifting and workouts. We came back here determined to be last team standing."
But in the third inning of a scoreless game on Sunday, King summoned Leach to the hill and the junior righty from Farmington, Maine, made the most of his second chance. It didn't start out smoothly for Leach, who allowed a two-out single and then hit the next two batters to load the bases. But Leach got Matt Lopes to ground out to end the threat and find his rhythm.
When he walked the lead-off hitter in the ninth inning, King decided to bring in closer Joe Flynn.
Wilmington (43-14) was coming off a dramatic 2-1, 10-inning win earlier in the day against Southern New Hampshire. Al Stanton gave SNHU life with his game-tying solo homer in the top of the ninth inning, only to see Josh Hampton match it with his walk-off homer in the 10th frame.
In the sixth inning John Razzino singled to center and bolted to third when Matt O'Herron singled to right. On a steal attempt of second, O'Herron forced a errant throw from the pitcher to second base, allowing Razzino to scamper home for a 3-0 lead. Moments later, Justin Brock tripled in the gap to left center, giving the Ravens a four-run cushion.
"Our team had faith in the coaching staff and we had faith in them," said King, who got doused with a Gatorade bucket that set off another celebration in left field following the awards ceremony.
Under King, Franklin Pierce (36-17) has won five NCAA regional titles over the last eight seasons and has won at least 31 games a season since 2002.