WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J.-Andrew McGee (Toms River, N.J./Toms River South) threw a complete game shutout in Game One, and T.J. Hunt (Wyckoff, N.J./Ramapo) followed with a complete game victory of his own, giving the Monmouth baseball team a doubleheader sweep over Marist on Saturday afternoon at MU Baseball Field to open MAAC play. MU improves to 5-11 and jumps out to a 2-0 MAAC start, while Marist falls to 5-13, 0-2 in conference.
McGee tossed nine innings of shutout ball, allowing just five hits to move to 2-3 on the year. Hunt was equally as good, surrendering just a run on six hits in a seven-inning complete game to improve to 2-2 in 2014. Craig Sweeney (Middletown, N.J./Middletown South) went 4-for-5 between the two games, including a run driven in to pad Monmouth’s lead in Game Two. Marist’s Jordan Eich went all eight for the Red Foxes in the opener, giving up two runs on seven hits, walking three and striking out four. Scott Boches went 4.2 innings in the next game, allowing three runs on six hits, striking out three. Chris Napolitano threw a scoreless inning and a third in relief for Marist.
The Hawks got McGee the only runs he would need in Game One in the third inning, sprung by a Kyle Perry (Toms River, N.J./Toms River South) walk. Jon Guida (Martinsville, N.J./Bridgewater-Raritan) moved him over with a sacrifice bunt, and Robbie Alessandrine (Sewell, N.J./Gloucester Catholic) hit one through the left side past the shortstop to put runners on first and second. Joe Bamford (Washington, N.J./Northampton C.C./Warren Hills Regional) placed one perfectly into right field between the second baseman and the right fielder to load the bases, and Steve Wilgus (Woolwich, N.J./Gloucester Catholic) hit a hard line drive off the glove of a diving first baseman that scored Perry. Alessandrine was cut down at the plate trying to score from second, but MU led 1-0. Jake Gronsky (Danville, Pa./Danville Area) lined one back up the middle that ricocheted off the pitcher Eich’s foot and into left field, scoring Bamford and giving Monmouth a 2-0 advantage. Sweeney nearly gave the Hawks another run with two down in the frame, but after singling to right, Marist right fielder Matt Pagano recorded his second outfield assist at the plate of the inning, throwing out Wilgus.
Marist did not register a baserunner the first time through the order as McGee set down the first ten he faced. A one-out double by Tyler Kirkpatrick followed by a pair of hit batsmen loaded the bases for Marist in the fourth, but McGee promptly struck out the next two hitters to escape any damage. He mowed down Marist 1-2-3 in the fifth and sixth before Marist notched back-to-back singles to begin the seventh. Pagano lined one to Guida that he picked off and turned into a double play, nabbing the runner trying to get back to second. The Red Foxes mustered just one base runner in the eighth and ninth, and McGee had his third complete game of the season with MU winning the opener by a 2-0 count.
The Blue and White got Hunt a run immediately in the first inning of Game Two, when a walk sandwiched in between a pair of infield hits loaded the bases with one down. Danny Avella (Matawan, N.J./Christian Brothers Academy) worked the count full before walking to plate a run. Marist scattered a pair of hits in the first two innings but did not score.
The Red Foxes tied the game in the fourth on three consecutive singles, with Steve Laurino’s being the one to score the run. Hunt buckled down to retire the next two to end the fourth and put down the side in order in the fifth in just enough time for his offense to score him a pair of runs. Alessandrine started the bottom of the fifth with a clean single to right before a bunt and a ground out moved him over to third. Gronsky took an 0-1 pitch and laced it to left to score Alessandrine and give Monmouth the lead, and Sweeney added some insurance by roping a single back through the box to score Gronsky, who had stolen second.
Nick McQuail singled with one down in the sixth to try to bring Marist back, and Zach Passerelle hit a slow roller towards third. Alessandrine charged, fired to second for one and Gronsky completed the turn on the 5-4-3 to move through the sixth. Hunt struck out two in the seventh to nail it down, and MU had a doubleheader sweep over Marist, taking the program’s first pair of MAAC games ever to move to 2-0 in the league.
The Hawks look to for a series sweep tomorrow afternoon at noon when Marist returns to MU Baseball Field for the final game of the three-game set.