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Baseball Sweeps Four-Game Series Against the Mount

MU faced a tough line up this past week as they competed against the non-conference Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Tuesday and competed in two double headers Friday and Saturday against NEC opponent Mount St. Mary’s.

Starting off for the Hawks was right handed pitcher Jon Shippee. The Scarlet Knights took an early lead in the first inning scoring three runs off three hits.

Senior left fielder Ed Martin led off in the first inning by hitting a single. Next was senior right fielder Jamie Rosenkranz who got to first due to catcher interference. Sophomore second baseman, Jake Gronsky, nearly tired the game up by hitting a ball to the fence but it was caught.

Junior third baseman, Danny Avella, came up to bat and hit a sac fly deep to right field advancing both Martin and Rosenkranz. With two outs, senior designated hitter Chris Perret was able to connect for a single scoring Martin from third. Next was senior first baseman Owen Stewart who walked on four pitches bringing sophomore shortstop Jon Guida to the plate with the bases loaded.

Guida hit the ball in front of the home plate forcing a fielder’s choice ending the Hawks’ threat. Monmouth would not get another hit until the seventh when senior center fielder, Josh Boyd, connected for a single.

The scoreboard did not change again until the sixth when Rutgers was able to score making it a 4-1 game. After this run crossed the plate, Shippee was replaced by freshman righty T.J. Hunt. Shippee closed his line with 5.2 innings allowing four earned runs off 10 hits. Hunt was unable to calm the Rutgers offense as he pitched 1.1 innings serving up two earned runs against seven batters. Relieving Hunt in the eighth was fifth year senior John McDonald who pitched one-third of an inning allowing one earned run. Coming in for McDonald was freshman righty Adam Yunginger who finished off the eighth with only one hit and one walk held to his name. Right-handed freshman, Chris McKenna, pitched in the ninth giving Rutgers their final run off two hits bringing the final score to 8-1 in Rutger’s favor.

It is obvious that the Hawks were not offensively strong in the game. “If we made adjustments earlier in the game to how the Rutgers starter was throwing, it definitely would have benefited the hitters a lot,” Rosenkranz said. “He was throwing us a lot of off speed and we were just out front on everything. If we just worked a better plan, I think it would have helped out a lot more.” Monmouth’s offense finished the game with four hits in 31 at bats. With the loss, Shippee’s record fell to 3-1.

The Hawks continued their week by playing a doubleheader against Mount Saint Mary’s on Friday. On the mound in the first game was ace Pat Light.

Light came out strong and picked up his third complete game the season. Striking out nine in nine innings, Light also improved his strikeouts to 66 for the season. Furthermore, he allowed only three runs off eight hits and gave up a mere two walks. Teammate Avella believes that Light was a key member in the win. “Light pitched well,” Avella states, “obviously he kept us in the game the whole time. He’s probably the best pitcher in the conference and I have a lot of respect for him.”

Light came out powerful as he kept the Mountaineers from scoring for the first two innings. His shutout was diminished in the third when Mount Saint Mary’s center fielder got a hit and eventually scored off a double by his teammate. MU already had two runs on the scoreboard thanks to Avella’s home run in the first scoring himself as well as Martin.

Monmouth was able to increase their lead in the third as Guida knocked in Gronsky with an RBI single. Mount Saint Mary’s answered this run in the top of the fourth with their clean-up batter blasting a home run off the first pitch he saw. The Hawks retaliated to the Mount’s run by scoring one of their own with Rosenkranz hitting a single to bring home Perry. Although the Mountaineers scored the last run of the game in the eighth making the score 4-3, it was not enough for them to win the game.

Sophomore southpaw Andrew McGee started for Monmouth in the second game and led the Hawks to a 2-0 win over the Mountaineers. Holding the Mount to a mere two hits, McGee pitched his first shutout this season and his third complete game of the year. He also improved his record to 5-3 and struck out eight batters in the process.

It was not until the third inning when MU began to cause trouble for the Mount. Perry got on base by walking on four pitches and occupied third base. Rosenkranz was standing on second and got on base due to a fielder’s choice. Gronsky reached first after being hit by a pitch. With power hitter Avella at the plate, the Hawks were able to score their first run of the game with a walk.

MU then scored once more as Avella crossed the plate in the bottom of the sixth providing the final score of 2-0. Even though the Hawks won, their offense was only able to get one hit in the whole game which came off of Boyd’s bat.

With no rest, MU was back on the field for Saturday’s double header. Starting in the first game on Saturday was sophomore lefty Stephen Frey. After two innings of work and three earned runs, Frey was replaced by Yunginger who went 3.1 innings allowing one run off five hits. Hunt made his seventh appearance of the year as he relieved Yunginger and was able to finish the sixth inning. By mid-sixth, the score was 4-3 Mountaineers.

The bottom of the sixth began with a groundout up the middle from Avella followed by a quick fly ball to right field by Perret. With two outs, Stewart singled up the middle to get a runner on base. Guida then followed Stewart’s lead by also hitting a single up the middle putting runners on first and second. Sophomore Craig Sweeney pinch hit for Boyd and was walked. Next to bat was Perry who hit a single to center field bringing home both Stewart and Guida. Martin flied out to left to end the inning but the damage had already been done and the Hawks were on top 5-4.

Junior right hander Neil Harm was called upon to pitch the seventh inning. With two outs and runners on first and second, Harm got rattled by the Mount as one of their batters hit a long ball to deep left field landing just before the fences. The Mount’s third base coach was waving his pinch runner on second around indicting for him to try to make it home. It began to look like the Hawks were heading to the bottom of the seventh until a rocket from Martin reached Guida who then quickly pivoted to get the ball to Perry. Perry received the ball just in time to tag the runner out.

Gronsky was eagerly watching as the whole play developed. “Oh man. I think if there was a video of me there, I was going nuts,” Gronsky says of the double play which ended the game, “That was the biggest play of the whole weekend; that just topped it off for us. Eddie did a great job getting it to Guida, Guida has a cannon and did a great job. It was one of those plays that solidified the weekend and it’s good to see in a one run game those plays are big. Making that in the ninth was unbelievable.” Hunt picked up his first win of his college career while Harm notched his third save.

Once again, the Hawks’ day was not finished just yet. Junior southpaw Dan Smith was deemed the starter for the second game of the double header. Smith pitched eight innings, allowing only one run off seven hits while striking out six. Harm took the mound in the ninth to close the game. When asked why he believes Coach Ehehalt did not let him throw a complete game, Smith replied, “My pitch count was low but last weekend I threw 131 pitches so he [Coach Ehehalt] wanted to keep my pitch count down. I’m going on short rest so we wanted to keep the pitch count down as low as we could.” Since the Hawks won with a score of 2-1, Smith improved his record to 6-4 for the season. Meanwhile, Harm picked up his fourth save of the season.

Offensive contributions to the win were from powerhouse Avella who hit his sixth home run of the year and second of the series. Avella knocked in himself as well as Gronsky in the sixth inning.

When asked how he felt about being the go ahead run, Gronsky said, “It felt pretty good, they [Mount] threw some good pitches today. I was trying to look for a ball up over the plate and I was able to drive it to get to second. Avella does what he does and dropped a bomb. It was good for us, good for the team to see Avella crush one. I couldn’t be happier.”

The Hawks’ defense also proved vital in the win as they turned three double plays in the game. “It’s great,” Smith says about the turn twos, “Gotta love the double play. Pitcher’s best friend.”

The 26-15 (15-5 NEC) Hawks will travel to conference rival LIU Brooklyn this weekend for a four game series.