BASEBALL COMPLETES NEC SWEEP OF WAGNER
WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. - The Monmouth University baseball team completed a four-game sweep of Northeast Conference rival Wagner College, defeating the Seahawks 5-4 and 13-8 in a doubleheader Sunday afternoon at MU Baseball Field.
The Hawks (20-13, 15-5 NEC) were lead in game one by Ed Martin (Hazlet, N.J./Raritan [Brookdale CC]) and Owen Stewart (Howell, N.J./St. Rose) who both recorded two hits, while sophomore starter Dan Smith (Marlton, N.J./Cherokee) picked up his second win of the season throwing 5.1 scoreless innings. In the nightcap, Ryan Terry (Levittown, N.J./Harry S. Truman) drove in four runs on two hits, including a three-run home run, and Martin contributed with a 3-for-4 performance, scoring three times.
With the wins against Wagner (10-24, 8-12 NEC), it marks the first four-game sweep by the Hawks since the 2008 season when they took four from Quinnipiac.
In the first game, Monmouth broke the scoreless tie in the fourth as Danny Avella (Matawan, N.J./Christian Brothers Academy) and Nick Pulsonetti (Old Tappan, N.J./Northern Valley Regional) earned back-to-back walks followed by Owen Stewart's (Howell, N.J./St. Rose) bunt single on a 0-2 count. With the bases loaded, Cal Costanzo (Edison, N.J./Edison) reached on a fielder's choice, scoring Avella, and with Jon Guida (Martinsville, N.J./Bridgewater Raritan) at bat, Costanzo and Pulsonetti converted a successful double steal. After Guida, grounded out which moved Costanzo to third, Josh Boyd (Port Murray, N.J./West Morris Central) knocked a RBI single through the right side to give the Hawks a 3-0 lead.
Martin reached on a fielding error by the first baseman, stole second and moved to third on a throwing error by the catcher to lead off the fifth. Pulsonetti registered a triple to centerfield, chasing in Martin, and Stewart took the first pitch to center, bringing home Pulsonetti for a 5-0 advantage.
Wagner threatened in the sixth as it loaded the bases against Smith, but rookie Andrew McGee (Toms River, N.J./Toms River South) came in to relieve the lefty by recording a strikeout and inducing a ground out to escape the jam unscathed.
The Seahawks made it interesting in the seventh scoring four run on one hit, yet McGee hung on to earn his sixth save of the season. Smith (2-2) is credited with the victory, throwing 5.1 scoreless innings, while fanning three.
Jon Lucas is saddled with the loss, yielding five runs on seven hits in 5.0 innings of work.
In game two, MU jumped on Wagner's starter Ryan Van Spronsen in the first inning as Jamie Rosenkranz (Oakhurst, N.J./Ocean Township) doubled down the right field line and moved to third on Martin's single. Terry followed with his third home run of the series, fourth of the season, down the right field line to give the Hawks a 3-0 lead.
Tom Valichka (Pennsville, N.J./St. Mark's), who was making his first start of his career, lead off the second with an infield single, his first in a MU uniform, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Guida and over to third on Boyd's single. Rosenkranz followed with RBI base hit, scoring Valichka, and pushing Monmouth's lead to 4-0.
The Seahawks took the lead over the next two innings, scoring one run in the third on Eddie Brown's single and registering five runs on five hits, while taking advantage of one Monmouth error in the fifth to go ahead, 6-4.
The Hawks' responded in the home half of the fifth as Martin led off with a double down the right field line and came around to score on Puslonetti's base-hit to center, cutting the Wagner lead to 6-5.
Stewart earned a free pass to start the sixth and moved to scoring position on Valichka's sacrfice bunt. Guida followed with a RBI double to right, chasing in Stewart to knot the game at 6-6.
With two runners in scoring position in seventh, Nick Vallillo (Old Tappan, N.J./Northern Valley Regional) came in relief and recorded a pair of strikeouts to escape with the game still locked at six.
Monmouth scored seven runs in the seventh, sending 11 to the plate, as Martin led off with a five-pitch walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. Terry followed with a run scoring single and Wagner's reliever David Rees walked in three consecutive runs, followed by Boyd's two-run single, while Rosenkranz crossed home plate on a wild pitch by Christian Rautenstrauc to put the Hawks ahead, 13-6.
Wagner scored on a RBI double and ground out in the eighth to come within five, 13-8.
Eight out of the nine Monmouth starters scored a run, as Martin crossed the plate three times, while Terry, Stewart and Valichka each came around twice in the win.
Vallillo picks up the win out of the bullpen, his first since the 2009 season, allowing one run and striking out two in 0.2 of work. Starter Pat Light (Colts Neck, N.J./Christian Brothers Academy) threw 4.2 frames, allowing three unearned runs and striking out five in a no-decision. Stephen Frey (Washingtonville, N.Y./Washingtonville) came out of the bullpen to throw 1.2 scoreless innings while Nick McNamara (Branchburg, N.J./Somerville) allowed one run on two hits in 2.0 innings of relief.
Monmouth returns action this Wednesday as it hosts to Saint Peter's at 3:30 p.m. in non-conference action.