The last two teams left standing at the 2011 NEC Baseball Tournament were the two winners on Day 1 of the 2012 edition of the four-team postseason event, which will award its champion with an automatic NCAA Championship berth. Top-seeded Monmouth pulled away late in a 7-1 victory over No. 4 seed Fairleigh Dickinson. While defending champion Sacred Heart, the No. 2 seed, edged No. 3 Central Connecticut in a 3-2 decision in Game 2. Both Monmouth and Sacred Heart were the beneficiaries of superb starting pitching performances. Third-year Hawk Pat Light and SHU junior Troy Scribner both went the distance. On his way to recording all 27 outs, Light allowed only five hits and no earned runs. Scribner was charged with two runs, but struck out nine and walked none in the victory. Thursday’s results set up a winner’s bracket matchup between Monmouth and Sacred Heart on Friday, May 18 at 3:30 pm. First, though, FDU and Central Connecticut will tussle in an elimination contest at 12:00 pm. All games can be seen live (free of charge) on NortheastConference.TV.
#1 Monmouth 7, #4 FDU 1
Norwich, CT - Monmouth and Fairleigh Dickinson opened the 2012 NEC Baseball Tournament with a Garden State Rivalry matchup, and fittingly, it was a Garden State product who stole the show.
Monmouth ace, and Colts Neck (NJ) native, Pat Light went the distance in pitching the top-seeded Hawks to a 7-1 win in Game 1 of the four-team, double-elimination tournament, which will award its winner with an automatic NCAA Championship berth.
Light went scattered five hits and allowed one unearned over 9.0 innings. He walked two batters and struck out five.
The first team all-NEC hurler received all the support he needed in the bottom of the first frame when Monmouth plated two runs on a RBI groundout by Chris Perret (Morris Plains, NJ/Morris Catholic) and Jake Gronsky’s (Danville, PA/Danville) steal of home.
After surrendering two runs in his first inning work, FDU freshman right-hander Joe Borelli (Wallingford, CT/Sheehan) settled in nicely. He allowed two hits and no runs over his next 5.0 frames of work as the Knights faced a 2-1 deficit heading into the bottom of the seventh.
Borelli was aided by his defense at times, especially in the fourth when rookie centerfielder Riley Moonan (Syracuse, NY/Cicero North) made a spectacular, inning-ending diving catch to rob Monmouth’s Ed Martin (Hazlet, NJ/Brookdale CC) of possible extra bases.
The seventh was anything but lucky for FDU, which saw a one-run deficit jump to a 6-1 disadvantage.
A one-out walk to Martin started Monmouth’s big inning. With two on and two out, Borelli had a chance to escape unscathed, but Hawks’ veteran outfielder Jamie Rosenkranz (Oakhurst, NJ/Ocean) sent a 1-2 pitch right back up the middle for a base hit that plated Martin.
Borelli started the ensuing hitter, Josh Boyd (Port Murray, NJ/West Morris Central), off with two balls and gave way to reliever Anthony Calise (Pearl River, NY/Pearl River) midway through the at-bat. Boyd eventually worked out a walk, setting the table for a bases-clearing double by Gronsky.
Fresh off receiving all-NEC first honors at second base, Gronsky opened the NEC Tournament by going 2-for-4 with three RBI and one run scored.
FDU freshman leftfielder Jordan Ritz (Newport News, VA/Woodside) went 2-for-4 in his NEC Championship debut, joining Gronsky as the only two players with multiple hits in the game.
#2 Sacred Heart 3, #3 CCSU 2
Norwich, CT - The opponent was different, but Troy Scribner’s start at the 2012 NEC Baseball Tournament looked rather similar to his performance of a year ago.
Sacred Heart’s right-handed hurler threw a complete-game victory for the second time in as many starts at the four-team championship event.
Taking the ball for SHU’s opening game against rival Central Connecticut, Scribner (Washington Depot, CT/Shepaug Valley), who went the distance in an 8-1 victory over LIU Brooklyn at the 2011 edition of the postseason tournament, allowed two runs on seven hits over 9.0 innings of work.
After Central Connecticut’s all-NEC outfielder Dylan DelaCruz (East Lyme, CT/St. Bernard) blasted a solo home run to cut into what was a 3-1 deficit heading into the ninth inning, Scribner fanned back-to-back batters to nail down a 3-2 victory that sent the Pioneers into the tournament’s winner’s bracket.
In what will be a rematch of last year’s NEC Championship Game, Sacred Heart will face Monmouth in Game 4 of the double-elimination event on Friday, May 18 at 3:30 pm.
Scribner, who has not walked a batter in two NEC Tournament starts, struck out nine men on Thursday. Two of those strikeouts came with Central Connecticut threatening in the game’s opening frame.
A first-inning fielding error and a base hit by JP Sportman (Schenectady, NY/LaSalle), who finished the day 2-for-4, put runners on first and second for the Blue Devils with one out. Scribner responded by catching both all-NEC first baseman Tyler McIntyre (Bristol, CT/Avery Point) and DelaCruz looking at Strike 3 to extinguish the early threat.
A third-inning sacrifice fly from Sacred Heart’s John Murphy (Seymour, CT/Seymour) and a RBI groundout by Central Connecticut’s Anthony Turgeon (Mystic, CT/Fitch) in the fourth inning accounted for the game’s only scoring until the bottom of the seventh.
Murphy delivered a second sac fly in the seventh followed by Dan Perez’s run-scoring double that staked Sacred Heart to a 3-1 lead. Fewer than 24 hours after being named the all-NEC first team DH, Perez went 2-for-3 with a walk.
Neither of Sacred Heart’s seventh inning runs was earned because of a fielding error that occurred in the midst of the rally.
CCSU starter Harry Glynne (Hamden, CT/Vermont) saw his day end with one out and one on in the seventh. The righty was charged with two runs (one earned) on seven hits and two walks through 6.1 innings.