FAIRFIELD, Conn – In a rematch of last year's NEC Championship game, the Sacred Heart Pioneers head to Smithfield, Rhode Island this weekend for a four-game set against the first place, Bryant Bulldogs. Sacred Heart sits second in the Northeast Conference standings, a full four games behind the Bulldogs, who have won nine games in a row.
Bryant defeated SHU in last season's NEC Championship game to deny the Pioneers of a third consecutive conference title. SHU took three of four from Bryant at Harbor Yard during the 2013 regular season, snapping a Bryant 19-game win streak in the process.
The Pioneers split with the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds last weekend in its last home series of the season. The Pioneers bats exploded in game one of the weekend, pounding out a season-high 17 hits on the way to a season-high 12 runs and a 12-1 win. Senior right-hander Kody Kerski (Waterbury, CT) once again handled things in game one, allowing just one run in six innings to earn his seventh win of the season. Kerski continues to lead the NEC with a 1.32 earned run average, on top of a 7-1 record.
After being swept on Saturday, SHU answered back in the series finale with a 10-4 win on "Senior Day". Senior Derick Horn (Valatie, NY) knocked in three runs, while junior Nick Morrissey (Howell, NJ) earned the win to improve to 3-3 on the season.
Freshman Zack Short (Hurley, NY) continued his stellar rookie campaign last week, going 7-for-20 in five games, while senior Conor McEvoy (Watertown, CT) also knocked a team-high seven hits. Short is now batting .307 and ranks second in the NEC with 27 walks.
Junior Matt Charmello (Rossmoor, CA) has also emerged as another offensive threat for Sacred Heart. A usual outfielder, now seeing time at DH, Charmello is batting .341 with a .512 slugging percentage in 41 at-bats.
The Pioneers struggled in a mid week doubleheader at Fairfield, dropping both games to the Stags. The lone offense for the Pioneers came from a solo home run off the bat of sophomore Jayson Sullivan (Charlton, NY), his third of the season. Sullivan leads the Pioneers with 22 RBI this season.
Bryant, winners of nine straight games, come into the weekend fresh off a four-game sweep of the Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers. The Bulldogs outscored MSM 37-12 over the four games, including 12-run outings in each nine inning game. A.J Zarozny was named NEC Player of the Week for his efforts against the Mount, going 8-for-16 at the dish with two home runs and four RBI. Zarozny is the reigning NEC Rookie of the Year. On the mound, Bryant has been led by seniors Craig Schlitter and Vaughn Hayward who have combined to go 15-1 with a 2.27 ERA.
The four-game set will begin Friday afternoon at 3:00 pm.
Projected Pitching Match-ups:
Friday- Kody Kerski v. Kevin McAvoy
Saturday (Game one)- Jeff Stoddard v. Craig Schlitter
Saturday (Game two) – Jason Foley v. Vaughn Hayward
Sunday- Nick Morrissey v. Kyle Wilcox