The bats woke up for the baseball team as they scored 38 runs on 36 hits in three games to sweep Quinnipiac over the weekend to open up Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) play at MU Baseball Field.
“We work hard on our offensive approach. We spent a lot of time in practice this week tracking pitches and we did a good job of jumping on good pitches to hit this weekend,” Head Coach Dean Ehehalt said. “We had some big two strike hits and two out RBI (runs batted in). But lost in all of that was great pitching by three guys that have never started a conference game before, so tip your cap to them. They really competed and gave us the chance to relax offensively.”
The Hawks shut out the Bobcats in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, 12-0. Junior designated hitter Pete Papcun had a career day at the plate, going 3-5 with six RBI, including a monstrous three-run home run to left field in the fifth inning that landed on a lawn across Larchwood Ave. It was the first time a Hawk drove in six runs in a game since Cary Jacobson did it at Hofstra on Apr. 29, 2014.
Monmouth scored three runs in the first on Papcun’s RBI double and senior right fielder Chris Gaetano’s two-run home run to right. A fielder’s choice in the second plated another run. The Hawks scored four runs in the fourth and fifth innings. In the fourth, Papcun drove in two runs with a single which was followed by an RBI single by Gaetano. In the fifth, senior outfielder Tom Jakubowski drove in a run with a single which set up Papcun’s three-run blast, giving MU their 12th run of the game.
Sophomore right-hander Tyler Ksiazek took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and ended up throwing seven shutout innings, allowing only two hits and striking out eight. He threw 96 pitches and 63 strikes.
“I was feeling good today,” Ksiazek said. “I had confidence in my stuff and my offense gave me a lot of support. My defense was great and that gave me the confidence to just throw my game. I didn’t need to be perfect because they would make plays behind me.”
MU won the first game 9-4 in seven innings. Sophomore left-hander Kyle Ajjan made his first career start and picked up the win. He threw four shutout innings until running into some trouble in the fifth, where he surrendered four runs (two earned). He allowed three hits, walking three and striking out four. He threw 73 pitches and 43 strikes. Sophomore right-hander Joe Molettiere got the final seven outs on only 15 pitches.
“Kyle threw strikes and he pitched them inside,” Ehehalt said. “He pitches with a lot of energy. He can throw two pitches for strikes and when you get a free-swinging team like them, he was able to keep them off balance.”
The Hawks scored seven runs in the second and two in the third. Freshman third baseman Johnny Zega drove in Jakubowski, who led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second on a passed ball, with a double. Three seniors and Preseason All-MAAC First Team members at the top of the order did most of the damage. Infielder Grant Lamberton walked with the bases loaded, first baseman Shaine Hughes drove in two with a single and left fielder Dan Shea homered to right, a three-run shot and his team-leading fourth of the season, bringing the Monmouth lead to 7-0. Shea was named MAAC Player of the Week on Tuesday after hitting .714 with five extra base hits in seven at bats and driving in eight runs over the weekend.
In the third, sophomore catcher Clay Koniencki drove in a run with a single and freshman shortstop Danny Long doubled him in.
Monmouth won the first game of the series 17-7 on Friday afternoon. Shea hit four doubles in five at-bats and drove in five runs while Jakubowski homered twice in four at-bats and drove in four.
“We got after it this week in practice after a slow start to the season,” Jakubowski said. “We were very excited to get the conference started and as coach said all week, it’s a new season.”
Jakubowski got the barrage going with a three-run shot to right in the first inning. MU added four in the second on Shea’s second double of the day plated two runs and Papcun drove in a run with a single. The Hawks scored four in the sixth and six in the seventh. The blue and white cashed in two runs on Bobcat errors and another on double by Shea. Jakubowski homered again in the seventh, and freshman shortstop Danny Long’s first career hit was a single to left that drove in two. Hughes drove in a run with a double to right and Shea doubled to drive in two more.
Sophomore right-hander Jordan McCrum threw seven innings and allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits and struck out five. He threw 98 pitched and 61 strikes and evened his record to 2-2 on the season.
Monmouth is now 6-13 on the season, but 3-0 in conference play. They will wrap up a home-and-home two game set with Rutgers this afternoon in Piscataway before they resume conference play with a three-game weekend set against Canisius in Buffalo, NY. Saturday’s doubleheader is scheduled for noon and 3 p.m. and first pitch on Sunday is set for noon.
PHOTO COURTESY of Karlee Sell