#2 Sacred Heart 9, #1 Monmouth 2
Norwich, CT - Runner-up once, twice, but not thrice. Riding a trio of tremendous pitching performances and the bat of Tournament MVP John Murphy (Seymour, CT/Seymour), Sacred Heart went all the way at the 2011 Northeast Conference Baseball Championship.
SHU cruised past top-seeded Monmouth in Game 6 of the tournament, clinching the conference crown with a 9-2 win on Sunday afternoon. As a result, Sacred Heart has earned an automatic bid into the NCAA Division I Championship and will contest a regional for the first time since 2006.
The Pioneers had been the NEC Tournament runner-up in 2009 and 2010. They squandered a 7-0 lead to Monmouth in the championship round two years ago before watching Central Connecticut come out of the loser’s bracket and beat them twice last May.
Becoming the third SHU starting pitcher in three days to toss a complete-game, freshman Kody Kerski (Waterbury, CT/Crosby) allowed six hits, one walk, and one earned run over 9.0 innings.
Kerski’s performance followed a 6-1 victory from NEC Rookie of the Year Nick Leiningen (Millwood, NY/Horace Greely) on Saturday and a 10-1 win by all-NEC second team starter Troy Scribner (Washington Depot, CT/Shepaug Valley). Both Scribner and Leiningen earned two of the nine spots on the All-Tournament Team for their efforts.
The final line on SHU pitchers – 27.0 innings, 4 runs allowed, two walks, and 3 wins.
Meanwhile, Murphy provided some pop at the plate to go along with a tremendous three-day performance from freshman catcher Derick Horn (Valatie, NY/Ichabad Crane).
The 6-foot-2 backstop drove in a run and scored another in Sunday’s title game, finishing the three-day event with a .455 batting average. Both Murphy and Horn recorded a tournament-high five RBI.
Murphy hit the first home run of the 2011 NEC Championship on Friday and became the first, and only, player to log a triple when his extra-base hit plated a run in the fifth inning on Sunday. He also walked and came around to score in the second innings when the Pioneers pushed three across to jump out in front, 3-0.
Kerski made the early lead hold up, taking a shutout into the ninth inning.
Despite a 9-0 deficit, NEC Player of the Year Ryan Terry (Levittown, PA/Truman) was not going to walk away quietly. The three-time NEC all-star opened Monmouth’s ninth by lining a hard-hit single to right field.
He eventually came around to score on a groundout. Fellow senior Nick Pulsonetti (Old Tappan, NJ/Northern Valley Regional) also crossed home plate in the inning, but Kerski eventually closed the door.
With two outs, Kerski retired Josh Boyd (Port Murray, NJ/West Morris) on a fly ball to right and the Pioneers dance party was on.
Terry batted .400 with two walks over four NEC Tournament games and was one of three Hawks to earn All-Tournament honors – SP Nick Meyers (East Brunswick, NJ/East Brunswick) and SP Pat Light (Colts Neck, NJ/CBA).
#1 Monmouth 6, #4 CCSU 3
Norwich, CT - Monmouth stayed alive by turning away the defending champions. With their back against the wall, the top-seeded Hawks doubled up Central Connecticut, 6-3, in an elimination game that opened Sunday’s schedule at the 2011 Northeast Conference Baseball Championship.
Following in the footsteps of Monmouth’s ace Nick Meyers who pitched a complete-game victory on Friday, sophomore hurler Pat Light (Colts Neck, NJ/CBA) went the distance for the Hawks’ second win of the weekend.
Light, who was drafted out of high school but opted for Jersey Shore-based Monmouth, scattered nine hits, walked two, and struck out six in evening his season record at 5-5.
Central struck first on an RBI infield single from JP Sportman (Schenectady, NY/LaSalle Institute). Dylan DelaCruz (East Lyme, CT/St. Bernard), who was 2-for-5 with a pair of runs, scored on the play after a double from Pat Epps (Waterford, CT/Waterford) moved put him on third base.
Light limited the damage by striking out Anthony Turgeon to end the bottom of the first frame. The 6-foot-6 right-hander proceeded to retired 12 of the next 13 batters to face him.
Meanwhile, Monmouth tied the game in the third inning and built a 4-1 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth.
NEC Player of the Year Ryan Terry (Levittown, PA/Truman), who had four hits in two games heading into Sunday, plated the Hawks’ first run with a third-inning infield single that was hit deep in the hole at shortstop.
Run-scoring singles from Ed Martin (Hazlet, NJ/Brookdale) and Jamie Rosenkranz (Oakhurst, NJ/Ocean) along with a RBI groundout allowed Monmouth to grab a 4-1 lead.
CCSU cut into the deficit by plating a pair in the bottom of the sixth inning on RBI by Sportman and Sean Miller-Jones (Centerville, MA/Barnstable).
Clinging to the one-run lead, the Hawks added insurance in the ninth inning when a pair of walks came around to score.
Epps, Sportman, and DelaCruz had two hits apiece in the elimination game. Delacruz earned All- Tournament honors after logging four runs and six hits in three games.
#2 Sacred Heart 6, #1 Monmouth 1
Norwich, CT - Sacred Heart’s bullpen has yet to see the field at the 2011 Northeast Conference Baseball Championship. For the second consecutive day, the Pioneers received a complete-game starting pitching performance.
This time, it was NEC Rookie of the Year Nick Leinigen (Millwood, NY/Horace Greely) shutting down top-seeded Monmouth over 9.0 innings of one-run ball to notch his seventh win of the season, a 6-1 victory that moves the Pioneers ahead to the Championship Round.
Meanwhile, the top-seeded Hawks, who saw left-handed starter Dan Smith leave in the fourth inning due to injury, will take on defending champion Central Connecticut in an elimination game on Sunday, May 22 at 12:00 pm. The winner will advance to take on Sacred Heart at 3:30 pm in what could be the final game of the tournament.
Whomever they face in tomorrow’s second game, the Pioneers would seem to have a slight advantage given the fact they’ve used only two pitchers over 18.0 innings.
Sophomore righty Troy Scribner (Washington Depot, CT/Shepaug Valley), who accompanied Leiningen on the All-NEC Second Team, earned Sacred Heart’s first win of the tournament when he allowed only one run on six hits and walked no one in a 10-1 triumph over No. 3 LIU on Friday.
Taking the ace’s lead, Leiningen put up near identical numbers against No. 1 Monmouth on Saturday. He allowed one run on six hits and walked one.
After Leiningen set down the side in order in the top of the first, the Pioneers plated a run in the bottom half of the frame when John Murphy delivered a two-out single that scored Steve Tedesco (Mission Viejo, CA/Trabuco Hills).
Leiningen, a soft-tossing southpaw who thrives by keeping hitters off balance, made SHU’s 1-0 lead hold up until the sixth inning when Monmouth’s Ryan Terry (Levittown, PA/Truman) came through with a two-out hit that chased Jon Guida (Martinsville, NJ/Bridgewater-Raritan) home with the tying run. Leiningen retired the ensuing batter, Monmouth’s all-time home run leader Nick Pulsonetti (Old Tappan, NJ/Northern Valley), on a fly ball to centerfield to limit the damage.
After 3.0 stellar innings of relief by rookie Andrew McGee (Toms River, NJ/TR South), who came on for the injured Smith with no out and one on in the fourth frame, Sacred Heart finally broke through against Monmouth’s all-NEC reliever in the seventh.
MJ Schifano (Monroe, NY/Monroe-Woodbury) drew a hit-by-pitch to put a runner on with one out for Tedesco, and the Pioneers’ veteran outfielder perfectly executed a hit-and-run call by head coach Nick Giaquinto. With Schifano taking off for second base and the second baseman moving over to cover the bag, Tedesco smacked an outside pitch through the vacated hole and into right field.
With runners on first and third, all-NEC outfielder JJ Edwards (Endwell, NY/Endwell) broke the 1-1 tie with an RBI single to the left side.
Two batters later, Hunter Phillips (Monroe, CT/Masuk) delivered the big blow. With the bags juiced, the all-NEC second baseman roped one into the right-center field gap that was misplayed and wound up clearing the bases as a result.
When it was all said and done, Sacred Heart sent 10 men to the plate in the seventh inning and scored five runs on five hits.
The Pioneers, who were the NEC Tournament runner-up in 2009 and 2010, is one win away from NEC supremacy and a ticket to the NCAA Division I Championship.
#4 CCSU 2, #3 Long Island 1
Norwich, CT - Not much separated No. 3 Long Island and No. 4 Central Connecticut in the first elimination contest of the 2011 Northeast Conference Baseball Championship. In the end, it was a RBI hit-by-pitch that lifted Central to a 2-1 victory over LIU and allowed the defending champion Blue Devils to live at least one more day.
Central received a solid starting pitching performance for the second straight day.
One day after Nick Neumann (Middletown, CT/Middletown) was the hard-luck loser in a 2-1 setback to Monmouth, CCSU southpaw Dave Krasnowiecki (Cranston, RI/CCRI) threw 7+ strong innings. The senior lefty allowed six hits and one unearned run, leaving a 1-1 game in the top of the eighth inning.
Todd Savatsky (Stamford, CT/Stamford) pitched 2.0 hitless innings in relief of Krasnowiecki, falling in line for the win when the Blue Devils pushed across the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth.
Central used a pair of singles sandwiched around an intentional walk to load the bases against LIU closer Evan Zerff (Regina, Saskatchewan). With one out and the bags juiced, Zerff let a pitch get away as it nailed the batter – Anthony Turgeon (Mystic, CT/Fitch) – and forced home freshman Dylan DelaCruz (East Lyme, CT/St. Bernard) who went 3-for-4 in the game.
After Krasnowiecki and LIU starter Matt McCormick (Massapequa, NY/Massapequa) traded zeroes over the first six frames, Central Connecticut plated the game’s first run in the bottom of the seventh.
Four-time all-NEC selection Pat Epps (Waterford, CT/Waterford) led off the inning by lining the ball back to the box where it struck McCormick on the pitching hand and trickled into no-man’s land for an infield hit.
After receiving medical attention, McCormick remained in the game and completed the inning but not before Epps came around to score on a base hit by Sean Miller-Jones (Centerville, MA/Barnstable).
Over 7.0 innings, McCormick surrendered one run on eight hits and a walk.
LIU catcher Tyler Jones (Stewartsville, NJ/Phillipsburg), the regular season NEC batting champ, and rookie leftfielder Pete Leonello (Commack, NY/Commack) each had two hits for the Blackbirds.
CCSU’s Epps, a local favorite here in Norwich, logged a walk, hit, and a run.
#2 Sacred Heart 10, #3 Long Island 1
Norwich, CT - No. 2 Sacred Heart broke through for nine runs over the last three innings to post a 10-1 victory over No. 3 Long Island in Game 2 of the 2011 NEC Baseball Championship.
SHU sophomore starter Troy Scribner (Washington Depot, CT/Shepaug Valley), a second team all-NEC pick, threw the second complete game victory of the tournament. The right-hander, who earned NEC All-Tournament honors as a rookie last year, surrendered six hits and one earned run to notch his ninth win of the year.
Scribner and NEC Pitcher of the Year Nick Meyers (Monmouth) were tied for the league lead in victories heading into the tournament and are still tied after both men went the distance in Day 1 wins.
The Pioneers opened the game’s scoring when all-NEC outfielder Steve Tedesco (Mission Viejo, CA/Trabuco Hills) delivered a two-out single in the third inning to score catcher Derick Horn (Valatie, NY/Ichabod Crane) who singled earlier in the frame.
Sacred Heart committed three defensive errors over the first four innings, but Scribner kept the Blackbirds off the board as the score remained 1-0 until the bottom of the sixth when things began to unravel for LIU.
The Pioneers pushed a pair of runs across in the sixth without a hit, benefitting from two LIU errors.
Leading 3-0 in the seventh, the Pioneers scored more when John Murphy (Seymour, CT/Seymour) delivered the first home run of the 2011 NEC Baseball Tournament. The sophomore shortstop pulled a two-run shot down the right field line to extend the lead to 5-0.
Horn tacked on two more runs with his seventh-inning single. All-NEC starter Chris Franzese (Howard Beach, NY/Molloy) got SHU third baseman MJ Schifano (Monroe, NY/Monroe-Woodbury) to fly out to finally get the Blackbirds off the field, but much of the damage was already done.
Franzese, who went 6-1 in his regular season NEC starts, saw his day end after 7.0 innings. He surrendered 10 hits and seven runs, only five of which were earned.
Freshman outfielder Pete Leonello (Commack, NY/Commack) spoiled Scribner’s shutout bid by sending a run-scoring single up the middle with two outs in the eighth inning, but the Blackbirds could muster no more offense.
Murphy had quite a day for SHU, going 2-for-5 with three RBI and three runs scored.
#1 Monmouth 2, #4 CCSU 1
Norwich, CT - NEC Pitcher of the Year Nick Meyers (East Brunswick, NJ/E. Brunswick) went the distance in a 3-hitter and Monmouth manufactured a pair of runs in the bottom of the 8th to post a 2-1 victory over defending champion Central Connecticut in Game 1 of the 2011 Northeast Conference Baseball Championship.
Monmouth had six hits and no runs heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, trailing the Blue Devils, 1-0. Three walks sandwiched around a groundout set the stage for Monmouth second baseman Ryan Terry (Levittown, PA/Conwell Egan Catholic), and the NEC Player of the Year delivered with lucky hit No. 7.
Actually there wasn’t much luck involved at all as Terry smoked an opposite-field bases-loaded single to plate the tying run.
Senior DH Nick Pulsonetti (Old Tappan, NJ/Northern Valley Regional), who joined Terry in receiving all-NEC first team honors at Thursday night’s pre-tournament banquet, came up next and hit a shallow fly ball to right.
With Monmouth rightfielder Jamie Rosenkranz (Oakhurst, NJ/Ocean) tagging from third, CCSU freshman JP Sportman (Schenectady, NY/LaSalle Institue), an all-NEC second team selection at utility, made the catch in perfect position to throw home, but his delivery to the plate was up the third baseline. Rosenkranz snuck past the catcher’s swipe tag attempt to score the go-ahead run.
Meyers retired the side in order in the top of the ninth inning, setting down Central’s No. 3, 4, & 5 hitters to seal his second career complete-game victory.
For the third time in the program’s NEC Tournament history, Monmouth won a game in which they scored two runs or fewer. One of those games came against Central in 1999.
Terry, the Hawks’ all-time leader in hits, went 2-for-4 to increase his career total to 270 base knocks.
Four-time all-NEC selection Pat Epps (Waterford, CT/Waterford) had one of the Blue Devils’ three hits and drove in the team’s lone run with two outs in the fourth inning.
Epps and the Blue Devils flashed the leather early on, turning three doubles plays in the first three innings to help starter Nick Neumann (Middletown, CT/Middletown) hold the Hawks scoreless.
Neumann was cruising along with a 1-0 lead until the eighth when he walked three of the first four batters he faced. He exited after Terry’s run-scoring single and was charged with two runs on seven hits in 7.1 innings.