WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. - The Monmouth University baseball team dropped a 7-5 decision to Niagara University in a rain-shortened Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) game, Saturday afternoon at MU Baseball Field. Craig Sweeney (Middletown, N.J./Middletown South) drove in three runs, including connecting on a two-run home run, to pace the Blue and White, which falls to 6-12 on the year and 3-1 in league play. The Purple Eagles improve to 7-16 (1-3 MAAC) play with the victory.
The game, which was halted after six full innings, was slated to be game one of a regular scheduled doubleheader. Due to the inclement weather, game two, a seven inning affair, is pushed to Sunday at noon which will be followed by the series finale, a nine inning game.
Niagara jumped out in the opening frame, plating four runs on three hits while using the benefit of a Monmouth error. Anthony Firenzi worked a lead-off walk and advanced to second on Kevin Paulsen’s sacrifice bunt which was mishandled at first. Michael Fuhrman followed with a sacrifice bunt, advancing each runner up a base before Greg Rodgers registered a two-run triple to left center to put the Purple Eagles ahead, 2-0. Joel Klock pulled a single through the drawn in infield to bring in Rodgers and Taylor Hackett connected on a RBI double to cap off the four-run inning.
The Hawks answered in the home half of the inning when Sweeney connected on his first home run of the season, inside the left field foul pole, which drove in Steve Wilgus (Woolwich, N.J./Gloucester Catholic), who singled earlier in the inning to cut the Purple Eagles’ lead in half, 4-2.
Niagara continued its offensive attack in the second, scoring runs on a groundout by Fuhrman and a single by Rodgers to jump ahead by four, 6-2. The Hawks tacked on a run in the bottom of the second on a sacrifice fly from Wilgus, scoring Kyle Perry (Toms River, N.J./Toms River South) who singled to start the inning.
NU tallied a run in its third straight at-bat as Hackett, who singled to right to lead off, scored on Geoff Seto’s single to center field, increasing Niagara’s lead to 7-3.
Sweeney continued to produce at the plate, driving in his third RBI of the afternoon in the fourth with his two-out single, chasing in Joe Bamford (Washington, N.J./Northampton C.C./Warren Hills Regional) who reached on his second double of the season.
The Hawks continued to chip away at Niagara’s lead in the fifth on a bases loaded walk by NU’s starter Jordan Schwartz to Wilgus, scoring Jon Guida (Martinsville, N.J./Bridgewater Raritan) to bring the Hawks within two, 7-5, chasing Schwartz from the game. Reliever Jacob Lysiak came in and got Jake Gronsky (Danville, Pa./Danville Area) to swing at a strike three, leaving the bags full and preserving the two-run lead.
Andrew McGee (Toms River, N.J./Toms River South) is saddled with the loss, allowing seven runs, five earned, on eight hits and a walk, while fanning one. Frank Trimarco (Merrick, N.Y./Sanford H. Calhoun) worked 3.2 innings of one-hit baseball, not allowing a run and recording two strikeouts. Schwartz is credited with the victory for Niagara despite allowing five runs on six hits and walking seven.
For the most up-to-date information on the weekend schedule, please check www.GoMUHawks.com and follow Monmouth Baseball on Twitter, @MUHawksBaseball.