Sports

Baseball Earns First MAAC Win Before Losing Series

Baseball 03.28.18Monmouth baseball began conference play this past weekend going 1-2 in a three-game series at Marist. For the second week in a row, Wednesday’s afternoon game was cancelled due to weather conditions at Wagner.

The Hawks took the field early Saturday afternoon for the first game of a doubleheader where they gave senior Ricky Dennis the nod. Dennis would struggle on the day giving up five earned runs on 4.2 innings pitched. Luckily the MU bats had his back jumping off to the early 6-0 lead thanks to sophomore catcher Zach Schild’s RBI single in the first and senior right fielder Pete Papcun’s three-run homerun in the second. Schlid put together an impressive 3-5 day at the plate with two runs batted in (RBIs) while Papcun went 2-5 with 3 RBIs and 2 runs scored.

“Our lineup did an outstanding job of creating opportunities,” Head Coach Dean Ehehalt said. “We were able to somewhat get control of the game early with some clutch hitting and the ability to pitch out of trouble.”

Pitching out of trouble was exactly what the Hawks did once senior Austin Counsellor relieved Dennis, giving up only one run in 4.1 innings of work. After Marist cut the deficit to three in the second, Monmouth pieced together enough hits to plate five more runs of their own in the middle innings. The Red Foxes traded runs with Monmouth in the fifth and sixth to enter the final three innings of play down 11-5. From here Counsellor was too much for Marist, giving up only three hits on the day and sealing the 13-6 victory to open the three-game series and 2018 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) play. The win extended Monmouth’s perfect all-time record in opening MAAC games to 5-0.

Junior Joe Molettiere took the bump in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader giving up four runs on 5.1 innings of work while giving up a mere two hits on the day. Molettiere’s struggles came with his control as the story of the game were his seven walks.

Monmouth did get on the scoreboard first however as senior third baseman Shaine Hughes singled in a run in the first and finished the game with a solid 2-3 line making him the only Hawk to register a multi-hit game in the second of the doubleheader.

Marist bounced back to take the lead in the second after a huge momentum swinging homerun. Monmouth came back to knot the game up in the fifth and then regained the lead when sophomore Danny Long scored on a squeeze play to make the score 3-2.

The day’s scoring would wrap up in the sixth as the Red Foxes regained the 5-3 lead and never looked back, silencing the Monmouth bats the rest of the way and securing the win.

“We competed but we were unable to get the big hit against a really good pitcher,” Ehehalt said. “Things certainly didn’t go our way, but we had a chance to win at the end.”

The final game of the weekend went the distance and then some as Marist just barely eked out the 4-3 victory in ten innings on Sunday afternoon. Marist gained control of the game early tacking on three runs in the first four innings onto the line of Hawks freshman starting pitcher Dan Klepchick’s impressive six inning, three run (two earned) outing.

It was a come from behind effort for the Hawks who didn’t get onto the board until the eighth inning when Danny Long hit a double and scored on a wild pitch. They played small ball in the ninth plating two runs and extending the game to extra innings knotted up at 3-3.

Marist loaded the bases in their half of the tenth and then walked it off with a single to give them the series victory in the rubber match.

Monmouth will next play Canisius in a three-game series, with the first game starting on Friday at 2:00 p.m. at MU Baseball Field.

PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth Athletics