The Sacred Heart University baseball team finished the 2014 regular season with a 5-2 at Central Connecticut State University. The victory capped a Saturday that saw the Blue Devils win two games, and secure the two teams meeting in the opening round of next weekend's Northeast Conference (NEC) Baseball Championship.
The Pioneers finish the regular season at 27-26 overall and 13-11 in the NEC. CCSU is 26-19 on the year and 14-9 in league play.
The afternoon started with the seventh inning of a game that was suspended Thursday evening due to darkness. The Blue Devils earned a 5-3 win in that game, and then defeated Sacred Heart 9-2 in a seven-inning contest, before the Pioneers earned the win in the nightcap.
The Pioneers are the third-seed in the upcoming NEC Tournament, and will face the second-seeded Blue Devils on Thursday. Bryant University has clinched the regular season title and will face either Wagner College, LIU Brooklyn or Mount. St. Mary's College in the other opening day game. The double elimination tournament will take place at Dodd Stadium in Norwich, Conn., with the winner earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
GAME TWO; CCSU 5, Sacred Heart 3
CCSU jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top half of the first inning, on Thursday, on an Anthony Turgeon home run to right field. SHU immediately came right back with two of their own in the bottom of half of the first. Sacred Heart added another run in the bottom of the fourth to take back the lead. Charmello started the rally with a double to left-center field. After back-to-back outs, freshman Keith Klebart knocked an infield single to score Charmello and take a 3-2 lead.
Down once again in the sixth, the Blue Devils came back with two more runs to take the lead. Ingham was once again in on the action, tripling home a run to tie the game at three. After an intentional walk to Severino, Pat Sirois singled home Ingham and CCSU led 4-3. The game was called due to darkness at that point, setting up the resumption on Saturday afternoon.
JP Sportman led off the seventh inning of the game, and first of the day, with a single, and came around to score on single from Turgeon, for the 5-3 lead. The Pioneers were retired in order in the bottom of the inning, as Nick Neumann earned his first save of the season.
GAME THREE; CCSU 9, Sacred Heart 2
Central wasted no time getting on the board in the third game of the series, scoring in the top of the first on its way to a 9-2 victory. Josh Ingham paced the Blue Devils offense, going 1-2 with three RBU and a run scored.
Turgeon reached on a fielder's choice in the first inning and scored on an Ingham double to right center field in the next at bat, giving CCSU the early 1-0 advantage.
CCSU took control of the game with a four run third inning, despite collecting just two hits in the frame. After retiring the first batter, Jason Foley walked Sportman, who advanced to second on a balk. Franklin Jennings followed with a single to left field that just evaded a leaping Zack Short. Turgeon followed with a squibber just past the mound that allowed Sportman to score, and Jennings beat a throw to the place on a bunt from Ingham, for the 3-0 lead.
Dominic Severino grounded into what could have been an inning-ending double play in the following at-bat, but the relay throw was wide allowing him to reach on a fielder's choice and keep the inning alive. The ensuing pitch was wild, scoring Turgeon, and Severino would come around on a single from Pat Siroius, for a 5-0 CCSU lead. The Blue Devils added a run in the top of the fifth on an RBI fielder's choice from Ingham, for the 6-0 advantage.
The Pioneers got on the board in the bottom of the fifth-inning as Ted Shaw worked a leadoff walk, and advanced to second when Kenny Byram's pop up behind second got lost in the sun and dropped in for a hit. Jesus Medina flew out to right, to advance Shaw to third and he came into score on a sacrifice fly by Short to left center field.
Both teams added runs in the sixth inning as well. Jennings led off the CCSU half of the inning with a single to center, and scored on an Ingham sac fly two batters later. Matt Charmello led off the bottom of the inning with the Pioneers first extra-base hit, a double inside the third base line. He moved to third on a single from Klebart and when the throw went wide at first, came home to score.
Jason Foley took the loss for SHU, allowing five runs, all earned, in four innings of work. He fanned three Blue Devils, while walking three, and allowing four hits. John Sostarich allowed two runs on four hits in his two innings of relief, while Connor Landers gave up two runs on two hits in his inning of work.
Matt Blandino allowed two runs on seven hits and fanned seven Pioneers in earning the complete game win for CCSU.
GAME FOUR; Sacred Heart 5, CCSU 2
Starting pitchers Jeff Stoddard and Jess Frawley were both strong over the first three innings, as neither team was able to plate a run. The Pioneers broke through in the fourth inning, scoring four times. Jayson Sullivan walked on four pitches to lead off the inning, and was followed by a Matt Charmello single through the left side. After Derick Horn sacrifice bunt, Victor Sorrento drove a ball over the left centerfield fence for the 3-0 lead. Keaton Flint followed with a double down the left field line and scored on a Jesus Medina single up the middle.
Josh Ingham walked to open the fifth inning and scored on a sacrifice fly by Tom Rinaldi to make the score 4-1. The Blue Devils got the first two runners on in the seventh, with a single to left from Dominic Severino and a walk to Pat Sirois. Stoddard got Rinaldi looking and Jeff Buck and Bryan Rivera swinging, to end the threat.
In the bottom of the inning the Pioneers added an insurance run. With runners on second and third, Zach Short grounded a ball to third, but the throw was up the line and was called safe. Jayson Sullivan followed with a sacrifice fly to center in the next at-bat, scoring Jesus Medina, for a 5-1 advantage.
CCSU loaded the bases with no one out to start the ninth. Jeff Buck grounded a ball to Short, who started a 6-4-3 double play, that scored Severino to make the score 5-2 before reliever Dan Wertz induced a ground ball for the final out.
Stoddard went seven innings, allowing one run on three hits, while fanning six Blue Devils to earn the victory. Dan Wertz tossed the final two innings and allowed a run on three hits.
Frawley went four innings for the Blue Devils, allowing four runs on seven hits, while walking one in the loss. Nick Boyd worked three innings, allowing an unearned run on two hits and striking out two, before giving way to Austin Salnitis who allowed a hit and fanned two in working the eighth inning.