MANCHESTER, NH – Saturday was a monumental day for Southern New Hampshire baseball, sweeping the Pioneers of LIU-Post from last Friday and Saturday and having the opportunity to once again host the East Super Regionals against NYIT (New York Institute of Technology) May 24-25 in a best-of-three series to determine the champion of the East Regional. The winner will be getting plane tickets headed to Cary, NC, for the College World Series June 15-26.
The Penmen have been very durable in the past four seasons, having a well-built lineup to reach the Super Regionals each of the last four years. Whether it was former infielder Zach Goldstein leading the charge a few years ago alongside Ryan Sullivan, the ever so clutch first baseman that delivered when it mattered or witnessing the magical pitching of Mitchell Powers last season (94 strikeouts each of his last two seasons for the Maine native), SNHU has amassed unique talents who have helped carry them through the regular and postseason.
This season, junior Tom Blandini has been a crucial part of this team, being a multi-versatile army knife at the plate and in the infield. Tallying five home runs this season and collecting 29 RBIs, the leadoff man has set the tone for what was to come and getting the Penmen to this point once again. Almost nonexistent last year, utility player Sam Henrie sparked life last Thursday with a walk-off single against Assumption, allowing them to advance against LIU-Post. Not only did Henrie appear this season to grab valuable playing time, but he also took full advantage and leads the club in hits (61), at-bats (211) and doubles (12). No other player has reached double digits besides Henrie.
For the visiting Bears this coming week, a tall task to eliminate the Penmen in a bruising three-game series will make them utilize the best hitting/pitching combinations. After hosting Wilmington (DE) this past Thursday and Saturday, NYIT defeated them 10-7 and 6-3 respectively while cruising past the Ravens of Franklin Pierce 9-3 in the in-between matchup of their East Regional bracket.
Redshirt freshman outfielder EJ Cumbo is a major threat to watch, hitting a ridiculous .451 batting average with 6 homers and 41 runs batted in. His stature is deceiving at 5’8, but the production has jolted the Bears to this position. Following suit is Jake Lebel, who is sitting right behind Cumbo in batting average (.359) and leads the club with 7 homers and recorded 31 RBIs.
Three total games are set, the first one is Friday (5/24) 7 p.m. located at Penmen Field. Game 2 is set for Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and Game 3 (if necessary) is due up following the second contest.