Sports

Baseball Team Splits Four Game Series With CCSU

default article imageMonmouth University’s baseball team had a six game straight stint this past week against three different opponents. While most teams may feel pressured when it comes to playing six games with­in the span of five days late in the season, the Hawks kept their cool. “I don’t think we feel any pressure, we’re 30 on games into the season and we all elected to play this game,” Coach Ehehalt states, “We’re going to deal with the pressure that comes with it.”

With that said, the Hawks opened up their week with a one game series against Temple Uni­versity. This game was meant to be played on Saturday, March 31 but was postponed due to rain. Coach Ehehalt handed right-hander Jon Shippee the ball, de­claring him the starter. Shippee went a career best seven innings, fanning five in the process. When asked what he attributes to his daily improvement, Shippee responded “I haven’t started con­sistently in a while. I’m just start­ing to get back into the groove of things.”

MU won the contest, 3-2, but had trouble securing their victory in the ninth. Freshman Charlie Battis relieved Neil Harm and got the first batter to fly out to right field. The next batter got on base due to a fielding er­ror by Battis. he then moved to second on a wild pitch. The next Temple player at bat also reached first base on an error by Guida, moving runners to the corners. At that point, Coach Ehehalt had figured Battis had enough and brought in Joe Loiodice to fin­ish off the Owls. Loiodice struck out the first batter and walked the second. The bases were now loaded and Monmouth was one swing away from losing their lead. Fortunately, Loiodice did not succumb to the pressure and got the last batter of the game to ground out to third.

Scoring runs for the Hawks were Jake Gronsky, Danny Avel­la and Owen Stewart. The RBI’s came off the bats of Avella, Chris Perret and center fielder Josh Boyd.

After this win, the men had no time to relax since they were scheduled to host Rider Univer­sity in non-conference play on Wednesday.

What began with a slow start was capped with the most exciting finale thus far. Starting in that game was fifth year senior, right-hander John McDonald. Going six innings, McDonald came out of the game with one strike-out, two walks and only three hits allowed. Regretfully for McDonald, the game was tied 0-0 when he was pulled out disallowing him to improve his re­cord.

Up until the eighth inning, the scoreboard read 0-0 with hardly any hits from either team. In the top of the ninth, the Hawks show­cased three different arms as the Rider Knights took what was a scoreless game to a 5-0 lead. Freshmen T.J. Hunt started the ninth but was soon replaced by fellow freshman, Adam Yungin­ger. The two compiled for all five runs. Relieving Yunginger was Jeff Paglione, who got the final batter to fly out towards center ­field.

Heading into the ninth, the Hawks felt relaxed. “There wasn’t any pressure on us in the ninth inning,” Coach Ehehalt says, “We were down 5-0 and look how well we did. What are the odds of Monmouth winning that game? Nobody thought we would win this game... There’s been a lot of comebacks on this field.”

MU ignited the inning with a leadoff single from Boyd to right field. Rookie Steve Wilgus mim­icked Boyd hitting another single to the same spot. With runners on first and second, sophomore Craig Sweeney came into pinch hit for freshman catcher Kyle Perry. Sweeney was able to con­nect for a double scoring Boyd from second. With two on and no outs, left fielder Ed Martin stepped up to plate. Martin hit a single plating Wilgus. The score was no 5-2 with the Hawks still behind. Martin advanced to sec­ond on a wild pitch making run­ners at third and second with no outs.

First baseman Jamie Rosen­kranz was the next player to step into the batter’s box. Rosenkranz hit a line drive for a single scor­ing Sweeney from third and ad­vancing Martin to third. Run­ners were at the corners and the score now read 5-3. Rider was then faced with MU’s heart of the order. Gronsky came up to plate and slammed one for a single bringing in Martin from third. Next up was power hitting third baseman Avella. Providing Rider with their first out of the inning, Avella flew out to right field. With one out and two on, designated hitter Chris Perret was looking for his first hit of the game. Rocking a hit all the way to left center, Perret provided the game winning double bring­ing home both Rosenkranz and Gronsky. The final score read 6-5 Monmouth.

Perret claims he knew he would be the final at bat. “I knew even­tually it was coming down to me because I had an awful day and that always happens in baseball.” Perret continues, “It was a great feeling [getting the walk off hit].”

Coming off of this big win, the Hawks were next faced with a four game series against confer­ence rival, Central Connecticut State. Coach Ehehalt relied on his ace, star righty Pat Light, to start the series off on the right foot. Light’s line ended after sev­en innings allowing six hits, two earned runs, and four strike-outs. Unfortunately, this game went down as a 3-1 loss in Light’s book. MU’s only run came in the sixth when Gronsky was hit by a pitch eventually scoring off a double to right center field by Avella. This loss snapped Monmouth’s seven game winning streak.

The following day, Monmouth played in a double header against CCSU winning the first game and losing the nightcap.

Pitching for the first game was Andrew McGee who went a mere 4.2 innings giving up six runs (all earned) off of seven hits. McGee also struck out three and walked four in the outing. McGee picked up his fourth win of the season improving his record to 4-3. The final score of the game was a high scoring 14-12. All nine starters got a hit and all but Avel­la and Stewart scored a run. Mar­tin went 3-for-4 with three runs, two RBI’s and one walk. Rosen­kranz hit 2-for-4 with two runs, three RBI’s, and a walk. Guida also went 2-for-4 with two runs and one RBI. Perry hit 2-for-4 as well with two runs and two RBI’s in the game.

Monmouth was not so fortu­nate offensively in the nightcap of the double header. Stephen Frey picked up his second loss of the season as the Hawks fell 6-1 to CCSU. Frey went 5.2 innings serving eleven hits, six runs, and four walks with no strike-outs. MU’s sole run came in the third as Gronsky hit a single through the left side of the infield to score Martin from second base.

Hoping to even up the series, Monmouth went into Sunday’s game prepared for a battle. On the mound for the Hawks was southpaw junior Dan Smith who pitched a full eight innings allow­ing only three runs off ten hits. Monmouth’s offense provided the support Smith needed to get his fifth win of the season. Scoring five runs in the first and the fifth inning, the final score was 11-3 in the Hawks’s favor. No single player had a remarkable perfor­mance at plate, as it was more of a team effort. Martin, Gron­sky, and Stewart contributed for one run a piece while Rosen­kranz, Avella, Perret, and Perry each scored two runs. Gronsky brought in two runs, Perret plat­ed four in the game, and Guida had a total of three RBI’s.

The men currently are cur­rently boasting a 22-14 (11-5 NEC) record and will be hosting a non-conference game at 3:30 this Tuesday, April 17, against Rutgers. The Hawks will then welcome conference opponent Mount St. Mary’s for a four game series this upcoming weekend.