WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – The Monmouth University baseball team picked up two walk-off wins on Friday afternoon at the MU Baseball Field to sweep a doubleheader from Central Connecticut State, winning 4-3 and 2-1 respectively. The Hawks now sit at 12-10 overall and 5-2 in the NEC, while CCSU falls to 9-10, 4-3 in conference.
Led by Owen Stewart (Howell, N.J./St. Rose) who went 4-for-6 on the day with a run driven in and a run scored, seven Hawks had at least two hits on the day. Both Jake Gronsky (Danville, Pa./Danville Area) and Chris Perret (Morris Plains, N.J./Morris Catholic) scored twice on the afternoon. Perret had a sacrifice fly to score Steve Wilgus (Woolwich, N.J./Gloucester Catholic) with the winning run in Game 1, while Craig Sweeney (Middletown, N.J./Middletown South) plated Gronsky with a base hit to secure Game 2 in extra innings. Central was led by JP Sportman, who went 3-for-8 with a run driven in. Connor Fitzsimons also went 2-for-3 with two runs scored in the first game.
TJ Hunt (Wyckoff, N.J./Ramapo) got the start in Game 1 for MU, going four-plus innings and allowing three runs, only two of them earned, on five hits and striking out one. Jeff Paglione (Mantua, N.J./Gloucester Catholic) relieved him and didn’t allow a run during the fifth or sixth. Stephen Frey (Washingtonville, N.J./Washingtonville) got a pair of big outs in the seventh to earn the win.
For CCSU, Nick Neumann threw five scoreless frames before being lifted in the sixth with nobody out and the bases loaded. Brendyn Karinchak threw an inning and a third in relief and allowed two hits and the game-winning run. In the following game, Adam Yunginger (Lancaster, Pa./Manheim Township) toed the rubber for MU and went four innings, allowing a run on five hits and striking out four. Frank Trimarco (Merrick, N.Y./Sanford H. Calhoun) was strong in relief, throwing four scoreless stanzas in picking up his first collegiate win. Cody Brown went the distance for the Blue Devils, surrendering two runs on nine hits and striking out two.
In the opening game, after Hunt cruised through the first two, CCSU struck first in the third, plating a pair in the frame. The Blue Devils manufactured their first run after Chris Renzoni led off with a walk and Josh Ingham bunted him to second. Fitzsimons then lined an RBI single down the right field line to get Central on the board. Dylan DelaCruz doubled to left but MU caught a break when he tried to stretch it into a triple, but the lead runner had not attempted to score from third, leaving two Blue Devils on the same base. After a walk to Nick Palmisano, Sportman doubled down the third-base chalk to score Fitzsimons from third, and Central Connecticut led 2-0 after three.
The Blue Devils added a run in the fifth, with Paglione entering after Hunt allowed a one-out single to Fitzsimons. Paglione’s pickoff attempt skipped into right field, enabling Fitzsimons to advance to third. Palmisano was able to get him in with a sacrifice fly to right, putting CCSU up 3-0.
Monmouth battled back to get things even at three in the sixth. The first three Hawks reached on base hits, forcing Neumann to be lifted from the game. Stewart got MU on the board on a fielder’s choice to second, before a fielding error by Anthony Turgeon allowed Jon Guida (Martinsville, N.J./Bridgewater Raritan) to reach, plating a second run. Freshman Dan Shea (Wilmington, Del./Salesianum) lined a single through the right side and Stewart slid in ahead of the tag to tie the game.
Frey came on in the seventh with runners on first and second and one out. After allowing a walk to load the bases, and getting behind pinch hitter Dominic Severino, 2-0, a conference on the mound with Head Coach Dean Ehehalt seemed to calm the junior southpaw. He buckled down and got Severino to foul out and Turgeon to fly to right to escape trouble.
With a chance to win it in the bottom of the seventh, MU got a leadoff double into the right center field gap from Wilgus. After an intentional walk to Gronsky, a wild pitch moved both runners up to second and third. In a long turn at bat, Perret was able to lift a fly ball to left center. Wilgus slid home with the winning run past a throw up the line to give the Hawks the first game.
In Game 2, Central got on the board immediately against Yunginger. After Palmisano walked and Sportman reached on an error, Tyler McIntyre drove in the game’s first run. That stood as the only scoring the rest of the day for the Blue Devils.
Monmouth knotted things in the fourth when Perret led off with a double. After a Stewart infield hit, Joe Bamford (Washington, N.J./Warren Hills Regional [Northampton C.C.]) dropped a single into left field to score Perret. That would do it for the scoring for the next three frames for both sides, as Brown set MU down in order in the sixth and seventh. In relief of Yunginger, Trimarco threw four shutout innings, allowing only two hits. With the score deadlocked at one apiece through seven innings, it took extra at-bats to decide the game.
Trimarco worked through a one-out single in the top of the eighth, giving the Hawks a chance in the bottom half. Gronsky got things rolling with a seeing-eye single through the left side. After being sacrificed to second by Perret, Sweeney hit a one hopper into left field. Bobby Migliazza, who had just come in the game as a pinch runner in the top half of the eighth, was playing deep and, as a result, his throw to the plate came in just late as Gronsky snuck in under the tag, giving Monmouth the twinbill sweep and their second walk-off victory of the day.
Monmouth concludes its weekend series with Central Connecticut State tomorrow with a nine-inning contest beginning at 1 p.m. at MU Baseball Field.