NORWICH, Conn – The Sacred Heart Pioneers broke a scoreless tie with two runs in the eighth inning on the way to a 2-0 win over Central Connecticut State Saturday afternoon to reach their sixth consecutive NEC Championship game at Dodd Stadium. Sacred Heart will play Bryant in the NEC title game, a re-match of last year's championship game, on Saturday afternoon.
With Sacred Heart facing elimination for the second consecutive day, right-hander Nick Morrissey (Howell, NJ) took the mound for the Pioneers and put together the best performance of his SHU career. The Jersey native struck out a season-high seven batters in a season-high seven scoreless innings to earn a no-decision.
Junior James Cooksey (Norwalk, CT) continued his masterful season with two more scoreless innings out of the bullpen to record the win. Cooksey improves to 6-1 on the season.
Morrissey was cruising early on but found himself in a couple of jams in the third and fourth inning. Morrissey came up with back-to-back strikeouts to end the fourth after escaping a bases loaded jam in the third. Senior catcher Derick Horn (Valatie, NY) came up with a huge pick-off throw from behind the plate to third base with the bases loaded and one out in the third.
After seven consecutive zeros by the SHU offense, freshman Keith Klebart (Orange, CT) led off the eighth with a double down the left field line and the Pioneers finally had something cooking. After a sacrifice bunt put Klebart on third, junior Kenny Byram (Ponte Vedra, FL) drilled a double down the left field line to give SHU a 1-0 lead. Freshman Zack Short (Hurley, NY) then knocked in the Pioneers second run with a RBI single up the middle.
Sacred Heart will need to defeat the Bryant Bulldogs two consecutive times in order to win the 2014 NEC Championship. Bryant defeated SHU two straight times last season to claim the title.