Edwards Late Triple Gives SHU 5-4 Win In NEC Tournament Opener

JJ Edwards (Endwell, NY) laced an RBI triple in the bottom of the eighth to break a late tie as the Sacred Heart baseball team defeated Monmouth 5-4 in the first game of the 2010 Northeast Conference tournament.  Starting pitcher Chris Zaccherio (Manhasset, NY) pitched seven solid innings before getting in trouble in the eighth.  Troy Scribner (Washington Depot, CT) got the last five outs in relief to secure the victory.

Monmouth (22-26) had the first scoring chance of the game as Bobby Dombrowski and Danny Avella pieced together back-to-back singles to start the second inning.  Two straight fly outs did not advance the runners but Josh Boyd delievered a base knock to left.  Pioneer left fielder Steve Tedesco (Mission Viejo, CA) came up throwing and gunned down Dombrowski trying to score to end the frame.

Sacred Heart (30-25) responded to the Hawks threat and took the lead in their half of the second.  Jeff Heppner (Aqubogue, NY) led off being hit by the pitch.  Two batters later Edwards singled to center to put runners at the corners.  Hunter Phillips (Monroe, CT) knocked in the first run of the game with a single to center, but that would be it for SHU in the inning.

The Hawks again stranded two runners in the third inning while the Pioneers added to the early lead in their half of the third.  Mike Drowne (South Hadley, MA) started the frame with a single and then quickly stole his 32nd base of the season.  Tedesco followed that with a bunt single to put runners at the corners.  All-NEC first teamer Heppner then deposited a single to left to make it a 2-0 game.  Rob Griffith (Lake Ronkonkoma, NY) belted a double off the wall down the left field line to extend the advantage.  Edwards finished off the Pioneer scoring in the inning with a fielder's choice that allowed Heppner to cross the plate and give Sacred Heart a 4-0 lead after three innings.

Monmouth finally reached the Pioneers starting pitcher Chris Zaccherio (Manhasset, NY) for a run in the seventh inning.  Josh Boyd reached on a fielder's choice and advanced to third after stealing second followed by a passed ball.  Mike Casale supplied the single that put the Hawks on the board, cutting the SHU lead to 4-1.  Monmouth would storm back to tie the game in the eighth with the help of two SHU errors and a pair of wild pitches from reliever Chris Dionisio (Smithtown, NY). 

The Pioneers offense would come back in the bottom of the eighth as Griffith reached on a one-out sngle down the left field line.  Head coach Nick Giaquinto would then bring on Jonathan Servilla (Fairfield, CT) to pinch run.  Edwards allowed the freshman to use his speed with a triple down the right field line to give Sacred Heart a late 5-4 lead. 

Scriber, a freshman, came into get the last two outs of the eighth and stayed on to toss the ninth.  The right hander closed the game with authority, striking out the side to pick up his fifth win of 2010. 

Sacred Heart will advance into the winner's bracket of the tournament tomorrow.  A berth in the title game will be on the line tomorrow as SHU takes on the winner of the Wagner and CCSU contest at 3:30.