Game 6 (Championship Round)
#2 Sacred Heart 5, #1 Monmouth 1
Norwich, CT - The great baseball mind that is Yogi Berra once said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”
Such was the case for Sacred Heart at the 2012 NEC Baseball Tournament.
For the second year in a row, the Pioneers rode a trio of complete-game pitching performances, courtesy of the same three men, to the conference crown and the automatic NCAA Championship berth that comes along with it.
After Troy Scribner (Washington Depot, CT/Shepaug Valley) started the NEC championship run with his win on Thursday and Nick Leiningen (Milwood, NY/Horace Greely) did his part on Friday, Kody Kerski (Waterbury, CT/Crosby) sealed the deal on Saturday. All three men along with Sacred Heart shortstop John Murphy, who batted .500 and drove in four runs, were named to the nine-member NEC All-Tournament Team.
“Our pitching staff has held it together for us all season,” said SHU head coach Nick Giaquinto.
Scribner moved from the pitcher’s mound on Thursday to first base on Friday and Saturday, filling in at a spot that once belonged to the injured Rob Griffith. Scribner’s efforts landed him the NEC Tournament MVP award.
Taking the ball in Saturday’s championship round, Kerski went the distance scattering five hits and striking out three in a 5-1 victory over top-seeded Monmouth.
As a result, Sacred Heart will head to the NCAA Division I Regionals for the third time in its history and will learn of its opening round destination and opponent in a selection show that will air live on Monday, May 28 at 12:00 pm on ESPNU.
Sacred Heart opened the game’s scoring in the second inning, plating three runs.
Catcher Derick Horn (Valatie, NY/Ichabod Crane), who spent the weekend receiving SHU’s pitching staff, drove in the first two runs with a double to right-centerfield. Then, Scribner plated Horn by lacing a single to right and Sacred Heart had an early 3-0 lead.
Monmouth had a prime chance to break through in the fourth frame as it loaded the bases with no one out.
Kerski, however, got tough in a tough situation. He induced a pop-up resulting in the infield fly rule and then watched Owen Stewart (Howell, NJ/St. Rose) ground into a 5-4-3 double play on a 2-2 pitch.
Sophomore second baseman Jake Gronsky (Danville, PA/Danville Area) went 6-for-16 with two doubles, four RBI, and two runs to represent Monmouth on the All-Tournament Team alongside starting pitcher Pat Light (Colts Neck, NJ/CBA). Monmouth’s ace allowed no earned runs in his complete-game victory on Thursday.
2012 NEC All-Tournament Team
Troy Scribner, Sacred Heart (Jr., RHP/1B)
Nick Leiningen, Sacred Heart (So. LHP)
Kody Kerski, Sacred Heart (So., RHP)
John Murphy, Sacred Heart (Jr. SS)
Jake Gronsky, Monmouth (So., 2B)
Pat Light, Monmouth (Jr., RHP)
Mike Eliasen, FDU (Sr., RHP/INF)
Jordan Ritz, FDU (Fr., LF)
Harry Glynne, CCSU (Sr., RHP)
Most Valuable Player
Troy Scribner, Sacred Heart (Jr., RHP/1B)
#1 Monmouth 5, #4 Fairleigh Dickinson 3 (11 inn.)
Norwich, CT - Nothing separated these New Jersey rivals after 10 innings of play, but something eventually had to give.
Second baseman Jake Gronsky (Danville, PA/Danville Area) singled home Ed Martin (Hazlet, NJ/Brookdale CC) to break a 3-3 tie in the top of the 11th inning and top-seeded Monmouth held on for a 5-3 win over Garden State rival Fairleigh Dickinson in an elimination game on tournament’s third day.
Martin, who scored two of the Hawks’ runs, sparked the rally by leading off the 11th with a double to deep right field. He went to third base on a sac bunt before Monmouth’s all-NEC second baseman chased him home.
Gronsky, who went 2-for-4, eventually came around to score later in the inning on Jamie Rosenkranz’s second sacrifice fly of the contest.
Looking to continue its surprise season and first NEC Tournament appearance since 1999, Fairleigh Dickinson received a one-out single from Matt Holsman (Coral Springs, FL/Stoneman Douglas) in the inning’s bottom half and brought the tying run to the plate in the form of Jordan Ritz.
Monmouth’s righty reliever Joe Loiodice (Forrest Hill, MD/John Carroll) threw a 1-0 pitch that Ritz, who came to the plate with a .462 NEC Tournament average, grounded to second and Gronsky turned the 4-6-3, game-ending double play.
Ritz went 3-for-6 to lead a FDU attack that had six players record multiple-hit games. The Knights connected on a total of 15 hits, but only managed two runs in the fourth and one in the seventh.
2012 Northeast Conference Baseball Tournament
Dodd Stadium - Norwich, CT
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All games can be seen live (FREE of charge) on NortheastConference.TV.
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