WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J.- For the third straight game, a Monmouth starting pitcher threw a complete game to earn the win. On Sunday afternoon at MU Baseball Field, it was Chris McKenna (Pine Beach, N.J./Toms River South) who tossed all nine to give Monmouth the MAAC series sweep over Marist. The Hawks improve to 6-11 with the win, while Marist falls to 5-14.
McKenna lowered his ERA on the season to 1.48 with his complete game, one run, five hit performance. He struck out three, and put together four 1-2-3 innings on the afternoon. He moves his record to 2-1. Offensively, MU got two hits apiece from Joe Bamford (Washington, N.J./Northampton C.C./Warren Hills Regional) and Jake Gronsky (Danville, Pa./Danville Area), using a three-run fifth inning to beat Marist and sweep the weekend set.
Rich Vrana was tagged with the loss for the visiting team, dropping him to 0-4 on the season. He pitched 4.2 innings, surrendering four runs, one earned on five hits, striking out two. Evan Davis relieved him and threw 3.1 scoreless innings, tallying four punchouts. The Red Foxes scattered just five hits in total offensively, plating their only run in the fourth.
MU got McKenna a run early, scoring a two-out run in the second. Kyle Perry (Toms River, N.J./Toms River South) singled past the outstretched glove of Joey Aiola at second base, and Jon Guida (Martinsville, N.J./Bridgewater Raritan) moved him over with a walk. Robbie Alessandrine (Sewell, N.J./Gloucester Catholic) hit one that was destined for center field but kicked off the second base bag right to Marist shortstop Matt Belitz. Perry scored on the play to give Monmouth the 1-0 lead, but Guida was cut down trying to move over to third.
Marist tied the game in the top of the fourth when Graham McIntire was hit by a pitch leading off. Nick McQuail moved him along with a successful sacrifice bunt, and Zach Passerelle dropped a base hit into right to even things up at one.
MU got all the runs they needed in the bottom of the fifth, when Guida reached on a two-base error by McQuail at third. After a perfect sacrifice bunt from Alessandrine, Bamford brought home the lead run with a ground out. Steve Wilgus (Woolwich, N.J./Gloucester Catholic) then reached on a Belitz error, stole second, and came around to score on Gronsky’s double down the line just inside third base. Craig Sweeney (Middletown, N.J./Middletown South) continued to swing the bat well when he laced a single to right to score Gronsky and give MU a 4-1 advantage.
That was all McKenna would need, allowing just two base runners in the final four innings en route to the complete game victory. He got some help from his defense in the eighth, when Jamari Moore hit into a 6-4-3 double play that Danny Avella (Matawan, N.J./Christian Brothers Academy) scooped out of the dirt to complete the turn and end the inning.
Today’s win moves Monmouth to 3-0 in MAAC play after three separate pitchers tossed complete games for the Hawks on the weekend. MU pitching allowed just two runs to Marist in three games.
The Hawks return to action on Tuesday, when former conference foe Wagner comes to town to renew acquaintances. First pitch is set for 3:00 p.m. at the MU Baseball Field.