Tournament MVP Pat Epps' two-run homer broke a 3-3 tie in the seventh inning as Central Connecticut State upended the SHU baseball team 9-3 in the 2010 Northeast Conference championship game. Senior Jared Balbach (Pine Bush, NY), along with freshmen Troy Scribner (Washington Depot, CT) and John Murphy (Seymour, CT) were named to the All-Tournament team.
Central Connecticut (33-21) struck first in the game with a pair of runs in the bottom of the opening inning. Sean Allaire singled to lead off the game, quickly stealing second and moving to third on a ground out. Sean Miller-Jones then laid down a bunt that went straight back to starting pitcher Corey Corcoran (Norwich, CT). Corcoran chose to go to first on the squeeze play but his throw sailed into right field allowing Miller-Jones to advance to third. He would score on an Epps RBI fielder's choice to third and the Blue Devils held a 2-0 advantage after the first inning.
The Blue Devils extended their lead with another run against Corcoran in the second. Anthony Scialdone opened the inning with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Danny Hickey. Allaire put runners at the corners with an infield single and Miller-Jones made it a 3-0 game with an RBI single. Corcoran would again limit the damage as he stranded the bases loaded to escape the frame.
Sacred Heart (31-27) reached CCSU starter Harry Glynne in the top of the third. MJ Schifano (Monroe, NY) led off with a bunt single and Steve Tedesco (Mission Viejo, CA) also had a base knock to put runners at the corners. Murphy, fresh off his 4-for-5 performance yesterday, ripped a double down the left field line to cut the deficit to 3-1.
Jeff Heppner (Aqubogue, NY) then lined out on a sharply hit ball to third but Rob Griffith (Lake Ronkonkoma, NY) drew a walk to juice the bases. JJ Edwards (Endwell, NY) was then hit by a 2-1 pitch to pick up an RBI and allow Murphy to trot home. Hunter Phillips (Monroe, CT) thought he had also drawn a walk on a 3-1 pitch but it was called a strike. The SHU second baseman then flew out to end the inning with CCSU now holding onto a 3-2 advantage.
Corcoran then hit his stride and faced the minimum number of batters through the next three innings. He allowed a single in the fifth but the Pioneers ended the inning with a sharp 4-6-3 double play.
The Pioneers would then mount some offense in the top of the sixth. Edwards reached second on a fielder's choice and error, eventually getting to third after a passed ball. Phillips then put runners at the corners with one out on an infield single. Dave Boisture (Highland Mills, NY) hit a ground ball to the right side that would not allow CCSU to turn two and gave the SHU freshman a RBI that tied the game at 3-3.
Corcoran's day would be done after a solid six inning outing, surrendering two earned runs to the top hitting team in the conference. Sacred Heart game one starter Chris Zaccherio (Manhasset, NY) would enter the game in relief to start the seventh. Zaccherio retired the first two hitters he faced and appeared to have struck out Richie Tri on consecutive close pitches. Tri would eventually draw a walk to set up the big blow for Central.
Epps launched his conference leading 18th homer of the season to put the Blue Devils on top 5-3. Central would extend the lead in the home half of the eighth as Mitch Wells led off with a double and was immediately brought home by a single from Kyle Zarotney to make it 6-3. Allaire padded the lead for the Blue Devils with a RBI triple into the right field corner off of Balach, who entered the game in relief. Miller-Jones made things worse for the Pioneers with a single through the right side to make it 8-3. The Blue Devils poured it on with two more two-out singles to make it 9-3 after eight innings.
Tyler Riordan finished his 6.2 innings of stellar relief for the Blue Devils by retiring the Pioneers in order in the ninth. The right-handed senior picked up his third win of the season as CCSU claimed its fourth Northeast Conference championship.
Epps earned All-Tournament team honors along with his MVP trophy. Also named to the All-Tournament team were fellow Blue Devils Zarotney, Riordan and Jason Foster. Rounding out the All-Tournament team were Wagner's Vin Avella and Monmouth's Kyle Breese.
The Pioneers season will come to an end as the #1 seed in the tournament as not won the event since 2005.