BB Online Exclusive 04.24.19
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Baseball Falls to Fairfield in Road Series || Sports

Baseball suffered from a difficult test on the road this past week, losing at Columbia on Wednesday before dropping two of three to Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) opponents Fairfield over the weekend in Connecticut.

The Hawks sent sophomore pitcher Evan Ferris to the mound on Wednesday afternoon for his first career start in the out-of-conference matchup at Columbia. Ferris would perform well in what turned out to be a major pitchers’ duel, with the MU starter going four innings while allowing just one unearned run on four hits and striking out two.

What ended up being the lone run of the game was scored in the second inning by Columbia thanks to an RBI single to center field.

The Hawks were only able to muster up three hits on the afternoon, which was not nearly enough despite the strong efforts from their relief pitchers as well.

Freshman pitcher Nick Houghton went three strong shutout innings out of the bullpen while sophomore Ryan Steckline threw one.

“We played hard today. Evan, Nick, and Ryan pitched very well,” said Head Coach Dean Ehehalt. “They definitely gave us a chance to win. Offensively we were unable to get anything going.”

The Hawks’ bats looked to heat up heading back into conference play with a doubleheader at Fairfield on Friday afternoon.

Game one saw the sophomore standout Dan Klepchick take the mound, looking for his fifth win of the season. The right-hander was less productive than he envisioned, however, allowing four earned runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out none.

The Blue and White were the first team to get on the scoreboard thanks to a sacrifice fly from senior designated hitter Clay Koniencki, who drove in junior shortstop Danny Long.

After the Stags scored the next four runs of the game in the first three innings of play, Monmouth found themselves trailing 4-1.

Sophomore second baseman Matt Graber was able to score a run on an error by the center fielder to get the game back within two into the top half of the fifth.

However, that was as close as the Hawks would get as Fairfield tacked on a run in both the seventh and eighth innings, leading to the 6-2 final.

The Hawks were able to bounce back strong in the second half of the doubleheader, however, as the previously ice-cold bats got off to a hot start.

Sophomore left fielder Colin McCreary got Monmouth on the scoreboard in the second inning with a bang; a two-run homer to right center for the first of his career, which scored junior right fielder JP Walsh to give MU the 2-0 advantage.

The Hawks went on to score the first seven runs of the ball game before the Stags could even blink, including a third inning three-run bomb from Koniencki that plated fifth year center fielder Kyle Norman and junior catcher Zach Schild.

“Our hitting approach in Game Two was solid as we were able to create a lot of opportunities,” said Ehehalt. “We had some good at bats in the third inning and then Clay got into one. Colin’s and Clay’s home runs definitely gave us breathing room.”

The Monmouth pitching was solid on the backend of the afternoon as well, as freshman pitcher Rob Hensey, who got the start and picked up his third win of the year going four innings while allowing four runs and striking out two.

All of his runs came in his final inning of work before fifth year left-hander Ryan Lillie came on in relief and closed the door on the Fairfield bats with three innings of scoreless work.

“Rob Hensey keeps battling for us and gave us a chance to hand the ball to Lillie with the lead. Ryan was able to limit damage and finish it out. It was an important game for us,” Ehehalt said.

The Blue and White sent senior pitcher James Kelly to the mound for the rubber match of the series where the results were less productive, going 3.1 innings while allowing six hits and four runs, three of which were earned.

Fairfield scored the first six runs of the ball game in just four innings, as the Monmouth lineup was only able to find the scoreboard in the seventh inning on a single from sophomore designated hitter Nick Campana that plated one.

The Stags tacked on one more in the eighth, leading to the 7-1 final and the MAAC series loss for Monmouth.

The now 15-23-1 Hawks will return home to face the New Jersey Institute of Technology this afternoon before conference rival Manhattan comes to West Long Branch for a three-game weekend series beginning on Saturday at noon.

PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth Athletics