NEW BRITAIN, Conn. – Senior righty Adam Piechowski pitched 8.2 innings allowing two runs leading Central Connecticut (26-25) to a 4-2 victory over Monmouth (35-22-1) in Saturday's first game at the Northeast Conference Baseball Championships at New Britain Stadium. The Blue Devil win forces a winner-take-all final game in the championship being played on Saturday afternoon. The winner of the day's second game will claim the 2007 NEC Baseball title and the league's automatic bid in the NCAA tournament.
The Blue Devils struck first with an unearned run without a hit in the bottom of the second inning off of Monmouth freshman starter Brett Brach (Freehold, NJ/Freehold Township). Senior Sean Salvatore reached first after he was hit by a pitch and with one out he stole second and went to third on a throwing error by the Monmouth catcher. Senior B.K. McLaughlin flew out to left field and a throwing error by the Monmouth left fielder allowed Salvatore to score from third giving the Blue Devils the 1-0 lead.
Central Connecticut threatened again in the third putting runners on first and second on back-to-back singles by Jay Schillaci and Casey Walko. Adam Taha lined into a double play to end the threat.
In the fourth Monmouth put the leadoff man on with a double to right center by junior first baseman Andy Meyers (Stratford, NJ/Sterling) but Blue Devil starting pitcher Adam Piechowski forced a pop-out and a pair of strikeouts to end the inning.
In the fourth, fifth and sixth innings Brach allowed runners to reach first and second base with two outs but he was able to battle out of each jam without allowing a run and keeping the Blue Devil lead at 1-0.
In the top of the seventh Monmouth put runners on first and second on back-to-back singles by Chris Collazo (Wall, NJ/Wall) and Mike Casale (Toms River, NJ/Toms River North) with two outs but Piechowski forced a groundout to end the Monmouth threat.
Central Connecticut put the leadoff man on board via the walk in the bottom of the inning and after a sacrifice bunt Taha was hit by a pitch putting runners on first and second bringing in Monmouth reliever Matt Frazier (Whippany, NJ/Whippany Park). A single through the right side by Jak Kidd plated Schillaci and moved Taha to third. Salvatore's safety squeeze scored Taha making it 3-0, all three runs were charged to Brach.
Monmouth scored a run with two outs in the top of the eighth inning cutting the Blue Devils lead to 3-1. After the first two batters were retired Kyle Messineo (Cedar Grove, NJ/Cedar Grove) was hit by a pitch and then stole second. He scored on a single up the middle by Meyers.
The Blue Devils got the run back in the bottom of the frame with a two-out RBI double by Schillaci that scored McLaughlin who had walked to lead off the inning.
Monmouth scored a single run in the top of the ninth when John Dennis (Union, NJ/Union) drove in a run with two outs to cut the lead to 4-2.
Piechowski pitched 8.2 innings for the Blue Devils allowing two runs on eight hits while striking out eight. He retired nine of 10 batters after allowing the leadoff man to reach base in the second inning. From the fourth through the six innings the senior struck out five of seven batters and allowed just one base runner. Evan Scribner earned the save for CCSU pitching the final out on the ninth inning.
Brach pitched 6.1 innings allowing three runs, two earned, five hits while striking out two and walking four. He also hit three batters in the game.