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Sports

Baseball Sweeps Marist in First MAAC Series

tj-huntFor most students, spring break means relaxing, going on vacation, and getting away from all things related to school. For the University baseball team, springreakantplaying against the George Washing-ton Colonials, Saint Joseph's Hawks, Towson Tigers, and Marist Red Foxes.

The Hawks started their break with a three game series against George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Senior southpaw Andrew McGee fell in a pitchers' duel to GW starter Jacob Williams in the series opener, 1-0. McGee tossed eight innings allowing only one run off of five hits. The Colonials' shortstop Kevin Mahala scored the only run in the game when teammate Colin Gibbons-Fly placed a sacrifice fly into shallow right field.

With two men on base in the bottom of the ninth, MU was given a chance to tie, however, shortstop Jon Guida hit into a double play and finalized the loss at 1-0.

The Hawks wasted no time gaining ground as they beat the Colonials the follwing day, 6-5.

Junior TJ Hunt picked up his first win of the season for the Hawks as he threw the first 5.2 innings and held the Colonials to three runs off of eight hits. Junior Jeff Paglione finished the game with a scoreless ninth inning to earn his second save this season.

Senior outfielder Joe Bamford went 4-for-5 and scored three runs. Senior first baseman Danny Avella batted 3-for-4 and notched three RBI's in the contest.

The Hawks lost the series to the Colonials as they fell in the final game, 1-0. Junior Chris McKenna had a strong showing on the mound for the Hawks tossing 7.1 innings and allowing only one run off three hits. MU's offense provided McKenna with only one hit off GW's sophomore ace Bobby LeWarne who threw a complete game shutout striking out seven in the process.

The sole hit came off the bat of freshman Grant Lamberton who ended LeWarne's perfect game gamble with a leadoff single in the sixth. Lamberton advanced to second on junior Kyle Perry's sac bunt, however, the Hawks were unable to bring him home.

GW scored their lone run in the eighth inning with a leadoff double from Owen Beightol. A sac bunt moved Beightol to third and a RBI single from Bobby Campbell plated the Colonial.

The Hawks had a two day rest before they travelled to Philadelphia to face Saint Joseph's University. Transfer student Jeff Singer was deemed MU's starter and lasted three innings before being replaced by junior Charlie Battis who made his season debut.

After 1.1 innings and three runs, sophomore Harry Paytas was on the mound making his collegiate debut. Paytas pitched until the game was called during the fifth inning because of the rain. Without four innings to play catch up, the Hawks lost, 14-4.

Singer allowed 11 earned run off 12 hits giving him his third loss of the season. Both senior second baseman Jake Gronsky and Sweeney had two hits and one RBI in the contest while Perry had one hit in his one at bat.

MU then went to MD to face Towson University on Thursday, March 20.

The Hawks jumped out to an early lead courtesy of Sweeney hitting a two RBI double. Towson answered with one run of their own in the bottom of the second.

The teams then traded runs in the third, however, MU still held a one run lead. The Hawks pulled away again in the fourth by scoring two runs with two outs.

Lamberton scored the first run after Towon's left fielder made an error while freshman Ryan Bailey scored the second run off a triple from Bamford. The Tigers scored in the fifth, sixth, and seventh with their victory run coming off a bases loaded walk. The final score was a 6-5.

Senior southpaw Stephen Frey, who came in to pitch during the sixth, suffered his first loss of the season.

MU ended their spring break with a three game sweep over new conference opponents, the Marist Red Foxes.

"We go into every year with the same mentality," head coach Dean Ehehalt said on the team's new conference. We play as many games as we can early against quality opponents and this year was no different. I think the adjustment we will have to make is not really that significant."

The series opened with a doubleheader on Saturday, March22. Starters for the day were McGee and Hunt who both tossed a complete game shutout.

McGee allowed just five hits in nine innings pitched and improved his record to 2-3 for the year. The only thing keeping McGee from a perfect game were two hit batters.

MU provided McGee the runs he needed in the third inning when Perry was walked. Guida advanced Perry to second on a sacrifice bunt while sophomore Robbie Alessandrine hit a single to put two men on base. Bamford then loaded the bases with a single of his own bringing Wilgus to the plate.

With a hard line drive off Wilgus's bat, Perry was able to score, but Alessandrine was tagged out at home. MU furthered their advantage to 2-0 after Gronsky hit a ball down the middle scoring Bamford.

In the second game of the doubleheader, Hunt allowed one run off six hits and improved to 2-2 for the season.

"I just tried to take what [McGee] was doing and apply it to the second game," Hunt said. "We really stuck to it. We made some big plays when we needed them and we got some key hits too."

The Hawks scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the first after Avella drew a walk with the bases loaded. The Red Foxes responded in the fourth with a run of their own. The blue and white took the lead once again in the fifth when Alessandrine was knocked in from third by Gronsky. Sweeney furthered the Hawks lead with a single which brought Gronsky home and secured the game's final score of 3-1.

Sweeney lead the Hawks offensively for the day as he went 4-for-5 between the two games and had an RBI.

McKenna secured MU's first MAAC series win on Sunday, March 23.

The right handed pitcher surrendered only one run off five hits and compiled four 1-2-3 innings.

MU totaled four runs off seven hits. Gronsky led the offense hitting 2-for-3 with an RBI double and run of his own. Bamford also had two hits in the game and an RBI.

The win puts Monmouth at 3-0 in MAAC play with a 6-11 overall record.

The Hawks will next host MAAC opponents, the Niagara University Purple Eagles, this weekend. There will be a doubleheader on Saturday, March 29 with the first game at 12 pm and the second set for 3 pm. The series finale will be on Sunday, March 30 at noon.

PHOTO COURTESY of Jim Reme

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Monmouth University
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