Hooksett, N.H. - The NYIT baseball team is one win from the College World Series.
Kieran Dowd drove in three runs and the Bears held on to defeat host Southern New Hampshire, 9-8, on Friday in Game 1 of the best-of-three Super Regional.
NYIT, the fifth-seed in the East, remained perfect in the NCAA Tournament at 4-0.
The Bears will look to punch the program's first-ever trip to the College World Series when Joseph Murphy takes the mound at noon on Saturday in Game 2 of the Super Regional.
If the Penmen prevail in that game, a winner-take-all third game of the series will be held later Saturday to determine the East representative in the eight-team national tournament in Cary, N.C., that begins June 1. Second-seeded Southern New Hampshire is the reigning East champion.
NYIT took a 9-4 lead into the ninth, but control problems led to SNHU plating a run and loading the bases with none out. Head coach Frank Catalanotto then summoned Ariel Taveras, NYIT's single-season saves record holder, with the tying run at the plate. He surrendered a pair of sacrifice flies and, after a two-out error, an RBI single. But with the tying run at second base, Taveras ultimately pulled out his 12th save.
The Bears improved to 36-14 with Friday's victory.
"It was not the best situation to come into late in the game," Taveras said. "But I've done it a few times. It wasn't anything new to me."
Said coach Frank Catalanotto: "I was hoping somebody would stick their neck out for us. And Taveras did that."
Trailing 4-3, NYIT took the lead with a two-run seventh. EJ Cumbo walked and stole second and Dowd followed with an RBI single. On the single, the ball scooted through right fielder Kevin Alexy's legs for a three-base error and Dowd raced all the way home with the tiebreaking run.
"I saw the ball go through his legs," Dowd said. "So immediately I looked over at (third) base coach Jimmy (Goelz). He was waving me to go."
An inning later, the Penmen elected to walk Cumbo with runners on the corners and two outs. Jake Lebel made them pay with a bases-clearing double to the base of the wall in left field to open a four-run cushion.
Dowd went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and three runs scored. He had a solo homer in the ninth on a first-pitch fastball to cap NYIT's scoring and give the Bears a 9-4 lead.
Chris Campbell earlier had a solo homer.
NYIT right-hander DJ Masuck twice stranded the bases loaded in the early innings and the Bears had taken a 3-1 lead into the sixth. However, Masuck then surrendered a three-run homer to Jake Coro — his second homer of the game, matching his season total — as the Penmen grabbed the lead.
Masuck (12-1) departed at 115 pitches after coaxing his fourth double play of the game in the bottom of the seventh. Joe Keller then entered with NYIT leading 5-4 and surrendered a two-out double to Dakota Mulcay. Fellow freshman left-hander Dean Fazah then entered and stranded Mulcay — Fazah's 20th stranded runner among 21 inherited this season — by coaxing an inning-ending strikeout of Alex Kennedy with a full-count breaking ball.
Meanwhile, NYIT handed SNHU starter Jake Walkinshaw only his fifth loss in 28 career decisions. His 23 wins rank second in Penmen history.
"We've lost leads and don't get down," Catalanotto said. "They just come right back and score runs. Sometimes that can be deflating. Not these guys. You have a 3-1 lead and they hit a three-run homer. They know that we're going to score runs. It's nice when you have such a good-hitting lineup that really believes in themselves like they do."
Provided by the NYIT Sports Information Department.