Pioneers Lose Two to LIU Brooklyn

BRIDGEPORT, Conn – The Sacred Heart Pioneers dropped a pair of Northeast Conference games at home Saturday afternoon to the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds. LIU Brooklyn snagged game one by the score of 4-3 and then scored four runs in the seventh to take game two, 7-3, at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard. The Pioneers fall to 6-5 in the NEC and 19-18 overall.

In game one, the Blackbirds jumped out to the 1-0 lead in the top of first inning as Mark Hernandez grounded out to score center fielder Pete Leonello from third base. Leonello was hit by a pitch to start the rally, reaching third on a Jon McAllister base hit and a John Ziznewski ground out.

The Pioneers tied it up in the bottom of the second, capitalizing on two LIU Brooklyn errors. Freshman Zack Short (Hurley, NY) reached third after McAllister botched a fly ball in left field and then threw it away trying to catch the speedy freshman at second. Short would end up scoring on a Matt Charmello (Rossmoor, CA) sacrifice fly.

LIU Brooklyn grabbed momentum right back in the third inning as SHU starting pitcher Jeff Stoddard (Branford, CT) struggled to find the plate. After three consecutive walks loaded the bases, Hernandez smacked a two-run single to center field to put LIU Brooklyn up 3-1. Bobby Webb then followed with a RBI single of his own and the Blackbirds led 4-1.

Once again capitalizing on some LIU Brooklyn sloppiness, SHU came back with two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. After singling to center field, freshman Keith Klebart (Orange, CT) scored on an error by Ziznewski at shortstop. After reaching on the error, Shaw came around to score on an error by Webb at third base, attempting to put out Jayson Sullivan (Charlton, NY) at first.

Within one run would be as close as SHU would get in game one, unable to make the most of a man on second with one out in the sixth and going down in order to end the game in the seventh.

In game two, it was once again a tough third inning for SHU that allowed LIU Brooklyn to take a lead. Following a walk and a hit by pitch, Ziznewski singled home the first run of the game. After another single loaded the bases, SHU starting pitcher Jason Foley (North Bellmore, NY) hit Webb and then walked Kevin Needham to give the Blackbirds a 3-0 lead.

Sacred Heart battled back in third inning on a wild play that saw Short knock a base hit to left field to score sophomore Jesus Medina (New York, NY), but also have Sullivan get tagged out between second and third and then Short get thrown out trying to take second base for a double play to end the inning.

Down 3-1 in the sixth, the Pioneers once again mustered a rally, this time with two outs. Following a Charmello walk, Klebart drilled a double to left field score Sacred Heart's second run. Next batter, Victor Sorrento (Monroe Township, NJ) singled to right field and just like that SHU and LIU Brooklyn were tied at three.

With the momentum momentarily shifting to Sacred Heart, Hernandez smacked the afternoon's biggest hit in the top of seventh, a bases clearing three-run double to left center field that gave the Blackbirds a 6-3 lead. Charles Misiano started the rally with a perfectly placed bunt single, while a walk and a hit by pitch set the table for Hernandez. LIU Brooklyn added one more run when Harrison Preschel was hit by a pitch with two outs and the bases loaded once again loaded.

Although getting the first two runners on, Sacred Heart could not score in the bottom half of the seventh and for the second consecutive week dropped two games on Saturday.

SHU will look for the series split tomorrow morning as the Pioneers will celebrate "Senior Day" at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard at 11:00 am. Sacred Heart will honor its five departing seniors with a ceremony prior to the game.