FAIRFIELD, Conn - On the verge of clinching a spot in their sixth straight Northeast Conference Tournament, the Sacred Heart Pioneers travel to Central Connecticut State this weekend for a four-game series beginning on Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m. Sacred Heart comes into the final weekend of the regular season third in the NEC with a conference record of 11-9 and trailing second place CCSU by just one game.
Sacred Heart heads to New Britain fresh off a four-game split with the Wagner Seahawks last weekend. After dropping the first two games of the series, the Pioneers swept a Sunday doubleheader from the Seahawks with a 4-3 win in game one and a 3-1 extra inning victory in the series finale. Junior right-hander James Cooksey (Norwalk, CT), the reigning NEC Co-Pitcher of the Week, came out of the bullpen and earned wins in both of Sacred Heart's victories. The side throwing reliever pitched 7.2 scoreless innings in the two games, including four perfect frames to finish out the series finale. Cooksey's 1.09 earned run average this season leads the Northeast Conference and ranks fourth in the country.
Sophomore Victor Sorrento (Monroe Township, NJ) went 5-for-11 with two RBI in the final three games against Wagner. Sorrento drilled a two-out, two-run, go-ahead home run in the sixth inning of the first game on Sunday to put SHU up 4-3. Sorrento then added a triple in the 11th inning of the series finale. Freshman Zack Short (Hurley, NY) also knocked five hits in the four games at Wagner and followed that up with three more on Tuesday against Quinnipiac. The Pioneers matched a season-high with 17 hits on Tuesday afternoon in an 11-4 win over the Bobcats.
CCSU has already clinched a spot in next weekend's NEC Tournament, thanks to winning three of four games against LIU Brooklyn last weekend. Dominic Severino and Matt Blandino both earned NEC weekly awards this week. Severino was named the NEC Player of the Week, while Blandino shared pitcher of the week honors with Cooksey. Severino batted .467 with six RBI to earn P.O.W honors, while Blandino did not allow a run in eight innings of work in a 10-1 win over LIU Brooklyn.
SHU and CCSU will play a doubleheader Thursday afternoon at 1 pm and then single games on Friday (seven innings) and Saturday. The NEC Tournament is scheduled to begin next Thursday afternoon in Norwich, Connecticut.
SHU Pitching Probables:
Thursday (Game 1): Kody Kerski
Thursday (Game 2): Nick Morrissey
Friday: Jason Foley
Saturday: Jeff Stoddard
NEC Weekend Schedule:
LIU Brooklyn - Bye
Wagner at Bryant
Mount St. Mary's
1. Bryant – 17-3*
2. Central Connecticut – 12-8*
3. Sacred Heart – 11-9
4. LIU Brooklyn – 11-13
5. Wagner – 9-11
6. Mount St. Mary's – 8-12
7. Fairleigh Dickinson – 4-16
Top Four Teams make NEC Tournament
SHU in the NEC Statistics:
Team ERA – 3.17 (1st)
Team Fielding - .970 (2nd)
Zack Short – .339 batting average (6th)
35 runs scored (6th)
28 walks (3rd)
. .437 on-base percentage (2nd)
Kody Kerski – 63 strikeouts (2nd)
7 wins (t-3rd)
2.12 ERA (2nd)
72.1 innings pitched (2nd)
James Cooksey – 1.09 ERA (1st) – 4th in Country
.203 opposing batting average (1st)