WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. - The Monmouth University baseball team completed its Northeast Conference series sweep of Long Island, tying its season-high offensive output, as the Hawks topped the Blackbirds, 17-1 on Sunday afternoon. Paced by Ryan Terry's (Levittown, Pa./Harry S. Truman) three hits and five RBI, and Pat Light's (Colts Neck, N.J./Christian Brothers Academy) six innings on the mound, Monmouth improved to 31-16 overall and 22-6 in the NEC.
Monmouth, which has posted its seventh 30-win season under head coach Dean Ehehalt, is now one conference victory away from tying the program-record for league wins, set in 2002, when the Hawks went 23-4.
With the weekend sweep, the Hawks have clinched a berth in the 2011 Northeast Conference Championships, to be held at Dodd Stadium in Norwich, Connecticut, May 19-22, Monmouth's league-leading 15th appearance and the program's fifth straight.
Long Island, which entered the weekend series ahead of the Hawks in the league standings, falls to 27-19, and 18-9.
The Hawks wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, as Monmouth posted a pair of runs in the home half of the first frame. After Matt McEndy (Malvern, Pa./Malvern Prep) drew a lead-off hit-by-pitch, a failed pickoff attempt allowed him to move to third. Following a walk to Jake Gronsky (Danville, Pa./Danville Area), Terry delivered an RBI single up the middle for a 1-0 lead, before Nick Pulsonetti's (Old Tappan, N.J./Northern Valley Regional) single to left loaded the bases with no outs. MU pushed the lead to 2-0 on Owen Stewart's (Howell, N.J./St. Rose) groundout.
Jon Guida's (Martinsville, N.J./Bridgewater Raritan) one-out infield single started things for the Hawks in the second, and Monmouth put runners on the corners after Josh Boyd's (Port Murray, N.J./West Morris Catholic) bunt single, which was coupled by an error. The Blue and White went ahead 3-0 when Gronsky shot a two-out single through the right side and captured a five-run edge on Terry's double into short right centerfield. Following two straight walks, Cal Costanzo (Edison, N.J./Edison) stepped in with the bags packed and drew a third consecutive walk from LIU starter, Adam Sauter, and a 6-0 lead.
Monmouth extended its lead to 7-0 when reliever Skye Freeman entered and issued another bases loaded walk.
After surrendering a lead-off single, Light retired the next six batters before surrendering a double to left center to Derek Stupski, to open the third inning, but stranded the runner at second with three straight groundouts.
Terry put the Hawks in front 9-0 in the bottom of the third inning when he laced an 0-2 pitch over the left field fence for a two-run homer, his seventh of the year, and 29th of his career.
LIU made the score 9-1 in the top of the fourth when Sam Sciamarelli led off the frame with a double down the right field line, and came around on Matt Molbry's RBI single to right.
The Hawks loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth, and with two outs, McEndy delivered a two-run single to center, to push Monmouth ahead 11-1, plating Costanzo and Anthony Lawrence (Fairless Hills, Pa./Pennsbury).
With no outs, the Hawks packed the bags again in the bottom of the fifth inning, and Lawrence drew the third bases loaded walk of the game, this time off of reliever Emerson Morillo, before Guida ripped a two-run single to left center, putting Monmouth ahead 14-1. McEndy picked up another RBI, when his walk forced in another run, making the score 15-1, and Tom Valichka (Pennsville, N.Y./St. Mark's) was then hit-by-a-pitch to push the score to 16-1. MU tallied its 17th run on the fifth bases loaded pass, this time to Stewart, by Dan Iglesias.
In the victory, Monmouth collected 12 hits, and drew a total of 12 walks from LIU's staff, as Terry was a triple shy of the cycle in the win. Terry went 3-for-5 with five driven in, while Guida added two hits. McEndy contributed three RBIs, while Lawrence and Guida drove in two runs each.
Light (2-5) earned the win for the Hawks, working six innings, scattering five hits, allowing a lone earned run, with three strikeouts and no walks. Nick Vallillo (Old Tappan, N.J./Northern Valley Regional) worked a scoreless seventh for the Hawks, while Nick McNamara (Branchburg, N.J./Somerville) pitched around a pair of bloop singles to notch a shutout eighth frame. Andrew McGee (Toms River, N.J./Toms River South) allowed two singles, but struck out two in the ninth to close out the win for Monmouth.
LIU's Sauter was saddled with the loss, dropping his record to 3-4 on the season. Molbury collected two hits for the Blackbirds.
Monmouth returns to action on Thursday, May 12 when the Hawks open a four-game NEC series at Mount St. Mary's. First pitch of game one, is set for 3 p.m., in Emmitsburg, Maryland.