WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – The Monmouth University baseball team got a strong start from Anthony Ciavarella (Phillipsburg, N.J./Phillipsburg) en route to a 9-5 victory over Lafayette on Wednesday afternoon at the MU Baseball Field. With the win, the Hawks improve to 24-17, while the Leopards drop to 7-35.
Ciavarella got the nod for the Hawks, going seven strong innings, giving up three runs, two of them earned, on eight hits while striking out four. Stephen Frey (Washingtonville, N.Y./Washingtonville) tossed a scoreless eighth and gave up two runs in the ninth. Derek Gussaroff started for Lafayette and lasted just 2.2 innings, allowing four earned runs on five hits, striking out three and walking three. Ryan Callanan relieved him, tossing two innings and allowing a pair of unearned runs on three hits. Cody Spera, Ari Kaufman, and Alex Farina combined to throw the final 3.1 innings for Lafayette.
The Hawks were led offensively by Kyle Perry (Toms River, N.J./Toms River South), who went 4-for-5 with a run scored and a run driven in. Owen Stewart (Howell, N.J./St. Rose) and Craig Sweeney (Middletown, N.J./Middletown South) each drove in a pair of runs, and Steve Wilgus (Woolwich, N.J./Gloucester Catholic) scored twice. Lafayette got contributions from Andrew Santomauro who was 4-for-5 with four RBI’s and James McCool, who went 2-for-4 and scored a pair of runs.
The Leopards got on the board first in the top of the second when Thomas Dunleavy led off with a double to the wall in left center. One out later, McCool singled and Santamauro brought home Dunleavy from second on a line drive double down the left field line. With runners at second and third, Andrew Ruck grounded to first and Ciavarella couldn’t handle Chris Perret’s (Morris Plains, N.J./Morris Catholic) toss, enabling McCool to score and putting Lafayette up 2-0.
Wilgus led off the home half of the third with a triple off the right field wall, and after Jake Gronsky (Danville, Pa./Danville Area) was hit by a pitch, Stewart brought home Wilgus with a sacrifice fly to right, cutting the Lafayette lead in half. With two down in the frame, Sweeney hit a Texas Leaguer to right that dropped in between three Leopards to score Gronsky and tie the game at two. Perry was next and he tomahawked a double down the left field line to plate Sweeney and give MU the 3-2 lead. The Blue and White would tally once more before the end of the inning, when Robbie Alessandrine (Sewell, N.J./Gloucester Catholic) drew a bases loaded walk to add to the Monmouth lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, Jon Guida (Martinsville, N.J./Bridgewater Raritan) doubled to the gap in left center and was brought home on a Connor White (Wall, N.J./Wall) liner to third that went off the glove of third baseman Scott Kelleher and into left field. Behind a base hit off the bat of Alessandrine, Wilgus hit a ground ball to second and after recording one out at second, Jackson Kramer threw the ball wide of first, sending Wilgus to second and plating White. The MU lead at that point stood at 6-2.
The Hawks manufactured a run in the sixth, starting with Perret getting hit in the elbow with a pitch. He moved to second on a ground ball, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and eventually scored on a deep fly ball to center by Sweeney.
Ciavarella retired 12 consecutive Leopards without allowing a hit before surrendering a leadoff double to McCool in the top of the seventh. He moved to third on a ground out and Santamauro picked up his second run batted in of the day with a hard hit double down the left field line.
Wilgus laced a single into left field to begin the eighth before swiping second and moving to third on a wild pitch. Perret tucked a double inside the right field line to bring home the eighth Monmouth run. Perret also found his way to third after a wild pitch, and Stewart singled through the right side of a drawn in Lafayette infield to put MU up 9-3.
The Leopards tacked on a pair in the ninth against Frey, when Santamauro picked up two more RBI’s with a triple to left center after the Leopards picked up a pair of base hits in front of him.
Monmouth begins a four-game Northeast Conference series with Sacred Heart on Friday afternoon at the MU Baseball Field, with first pitch set for 3 p.m.