WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – The Monmouth University baseball team dropped the final game of a four-game NEC series on Sunday afternoon, 8-4, to Central Connecticut State at the MU Baseball Field. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Blue and White, who now sit at 12-11 overall and 5-3 in conference play. The Blue Devils even their record to 10-10 overall, 5-3 in the Northeast Conference.
Dan Smith (Marlton, N.J./Cherokee) got the start on the mound for Monmouth, going 3.1 innings and surrendering eight runs, seven of them earned, on eight hits. Chris McKenna (Pine Beach, N.J./Toms River South) went 2.2 innings in relief and only allowed one hit. Stephen Frey (Washingtonville, N.Y./Washingtonville) went three scoreless, giving up just two hits. As a whole, the Monmouth bullpen threw 5.2 scoreless innings on just three hits. On the weekend, the Hawks’ relievers tossed 12.2 scoreless innings.
Jack Greenhouse got the start for CCSU and went the distance, allowing four runs, three earned on eight hits, striking out five. He improves to 4-1 on the season.
Owen Stewart (Howell, N.J./St. Rose) led MU with a 3-for-4 showing, scoring a run and driving in another. Steve Wilgus (Woolwich, N.J./Gloucester Catholic) also went 2-for-4 with a run scored. For the Blue Devils, JP Sportman had a three-hit afternoon and Josh Ingham added two hits. Dylan DelaCruz and Tyler McIntyre both had multiple RBI days.
The Blue Devils got on the board in the top of the second against Smith, with Dominic Severino leading off with a walk. After an error and a sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third, Ingham walked to load the bases. Connor Fitzsimons singled to right, scoring Severino, and DelaCruz hit a sacrifice fly to right to plate Chris Renzoni.
MU answered with a run of their own in the third. After Dan Shea (Wilmington, Del./Salesianum) reached on a high toss from the first baseman to the pitcher covering, he stole second and went to third on a Wilgus base hit. Jake Gronsky (Danville, Pa./Danville Area) doubled down the line off the left field chalk to plate the first Hawk run.
CCSU answered immediately in the top half of the fourth with six runs. Delacruz pushed a single into right center to notch a run, followed by a Nick Palmisano ground ball to short that looked to be an inning-ending double play. The ball redirected off the lip of the grass into left field, enabling another run come home. Sportman followed with a base hit to left that plated DelaCruz, and McIntyre doubled in two more on a liner to center. Anthony Turgeon completed the CCSU scoring in the frame with an RBI single back through the box.
MU got three runs back in the sixth, starting with a Wilgus single leading off. Chris Perret (Morris Plains, N.J./Morris Catholic) singled to right, and Dave Moreno (Voorhees, N.J./Eastern Regional) came up to pinch-hit, sending a dribbler up the first base side to score Wilgus. Stewart then lined a base hit to right field, scoring Perret. The ball skipped under the glove of DelaCruz and rolled all the way to the wall. It was enough for Stewart to come all the way around on the three-base error, and just like that MU had cut Central’s lead in half, making the score 8-4 after six.
Greenhouse finished the final three innings without allowing a Monmouth run to secure the final game of the four-game set for the Blue Devils. The Hawks put runners on in the seventh and the ninth, but were unable to get anyone across.
Monmouth returns to action next Friday afternoon, April 5, when they begin a four-game NEC series at Mount St. Mary’s. First pitch Friday is set for 3 p.m. at Straw Family Stadium in Emmitsburg, Md.