BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - With the game tied 2-2 in the 11th inning of the second game of its Northeast Conference doubleheader, Monmouth University senior Josh Boyd (Port Murray, N.J./West Morris Central) connected on a two-out, game-winning single and the Hawks added two more runs to pull away with a 5-2 victory and a split against Sacred Heart, Friday afternoon. After falling 7-4 in game one, the Hawks' (33-21, 21-10 NEC) game two victory has secured them the top seed heading into the NEC Tournament to be held at Dodd Stadium in Norwich, Connecticut, May 17-20.
With one out in the top of the 12th, Kyle Perry (Toms River, N.J./Toms River South) singled and moved over to second on Steve Wilgus' (Woolwich, N.J./Gloucester Catholic) groundout. Boyd took an 0-2 delivery to center field, chasing in Perry with the game-winning run, and reached second via an error on SHU's centerfielder. Jake Gronsky (Danville, Pa./Danville Area) reached on an mishandled play by the Pioneers' shortstop, advancing Boyd to third and after Gronsky stole second, Chris Perret (Morris Plains, N.J./Morris Catholic) connected on a single to first base where Troy Scribner held onto the ball allowing Boyd and Gronsky to score insurance runs for the Blue and White. Neil Harm (Hamilton, N.J./Steinert) allowed one hit in his second inning of work to secure the victory.
The Hawks' defense stifled two opportunities the Pioneers took to score the game-winning run. In the fourth inning, Wilgus fielded Dave Boisture's single to left field on one hop, sent a throw into Danny Avella (Matawan, N.J./Christian Brothers Academy), who turned and fired the relay to Tom Augustyniak (Whitehouse Station, N.J./Immaculata) at home where the senior applied a tag on Conor McEvoy, who was trying to score from second. Jim Perez started the bottom of the sixth inning for the Pioneers with a double and a sacrifice bunt by Hunter Phillips moved pinch-runner Jonathan Servilla to third. Adam Yunginger (Lancaster, Pa./Manheim Township) entered to relieve starter Jonathan Shippee (Waterford, N.Y./Shenendehowa) and got McEvoy to send a groundball to Jon Guida (Martinsville, N.J./Bridgewater Raritan) who threw home to Augustyniak where he applied his second game-saving tag to cut down the Pioneers' go ahead run.
SHU earned a first-inning lead on back-to-back RBI doubles by John Murphy and Perez, giving the Pioneers to a 2-0 advantage.
The Hawks put together a two-out rally in the second inning as Guida and Augustyniak each reached on singles and Wilgus followed with his second double of the afternoon, chasing in Guida to put MU on the board.
In the fourth inning, Avella roped a lead-off double off the wall in right field and moved to third on Sweeney's groundout. Guida followed with a successful safety squeeze, plating Avella with the tying run.
Wilgus went 3-for-6 with two doubles and a RBI, while Perret, Guida and Avella each chipped in two hits for the Blue and White.
In a no decision, Shippee allowed two runs on seven hits with a pair of strikeouts in 5.1 innings on the hill. Yunginger, Joe Loiodice (Forest Hills, Md./John Carroll), and Harm combined to allow three hits, two walks and five strikeouts in 5.2 innings out of the Hawks' bullpen.
In game one, the Pioneers jumped ahead 5-0 in the first inning on four hits, a bases loaded walk and the benefit of a Monmouth error.
The Hawks chipped away over the next three innings, scoring a run in each frame. With one out in the second, Jamie Rosenkranz (Oakhurst, N.J./Ocean Township), Perret, and Craig Sweeney (Middletown, N.J./Middletown South) each connected on singles which led to the Hawks' first run.
In the third, Boyd singled and came around to score on Gronsky's RBI triple, while Perret registered his first home run of the season in the fourth to bring the Blue and White within two, 5-3.
Billy McDonough's RBI single halted the Hawks' run and increased the Pioneers' lead to 6-3, but Monmouth responded in the top of the fifth. Ed Martin (Hazlet, N.J./Raritan [Brookdale CC]) earned a walk and moved to second on Boyd's bunt single and to third on a SHU error. With Gronsky up, a pitch got past catcher Derick Horn allowing Martin to cross home, again bringing MU within two, 6-4.
Sacred Heart regained a three-run lead in the bottom of the sixth on a successful safety squeeze by Keaton Flint to account for the final run of the game.
In defeat, Dan Smith (Marlton, N.J./Cherokee) worked five innings, surrendering six earned runs on nine hits while striking out two. Harm did not allow a hit in an inning of action in relief.
The Hawks and Pioneers will conclude the regular season with a 1 p.m. first pitch on Saturday.