GRONSKY'S BIG DAY PROPELS BASEBALL PAST ECU, 4-3, IN 10
GREENVILLE, N.C. - Jake Gronsky (Danville, Pa./Danville Area) went 3-for-5 with a three-run home run and a key 10th inning single as the Monmouth University baseball team defeated East Carolina, 4-3, in extra innings Friday afternoon on Lewis Field at Clark-LeClair Stadium. Monmouth University Head Coach Dean Ehehalt has now defeated his alma mater in three-consecutive series openers at East Carolina, also turning the trick in 2008 and 2010. With the win, the Hawks improve to 3-5, while the Pirates fall to 7-5.
Gronsky fueled the Hawks' offense with two singles and his first home run of the season. Chris Perret (Morris Plains, N.J./Morris Catholic) added a 2-for-3 effort, as well as the game-winning sacrifice fly in the 10th. Kyle Perry (Toms River, N.J./Toms River South), Owen Stewart (Howell, N.J./St. Rose) and Dan Shea (Wilmington, Del./Salesianum) also added one hit apiece. Andrew McGee (Toms River, N.J./Toms River South) started the game and went seven innings, allowing three earned runs on four hits, three walks and a hit by pitch. He struck out three. Adam Yunginger (Lancaster, Pa./Manheim Township) picked up the win, throwing three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out two.
"McGee and Yunginger were very good tonight," said Ehehalt. "Our guys had great energy from the first pitch. Jake gave us a lift early; our hitters did a nice job of competing right from the first pitch. That's a tough environment to play in, as it is a great college baseball atmosphere."
Five different Pirates finished with one hit each, led by Chase McDonald's home run to lead off the sixth and tie the game at 3-3. Jack Reinheimer added an RBI bunt single, while Zach Houchins chipped in with a single and a run scored. Drew Reynolds and Nick Thompson also contributed one hit each. Jeff Hoffman, ranked by Baseball America as the top prospect in Conference USA for the 2013 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft, started the game and went eight strong innings. Paired with a win over Colonial Athletic Association top prospect Chad Kuhl of Delaware last weekend, the Hawks have now won a pair of games in which top pitching prospects have thrown against them on consecutive Fridays. He allowed three earned runs on the Gronsky blast, scattering six hits and two walks, while striking out four. Reliever Jake Harris took the loss, allowing one earned run on one hit and one walk over 1.1 innings pitched. Harris struck out one.
The Hawks jumped out in front in the third inning, when Gronsky drilled a three-run home run over the left field wall. The drive plated Shea and Perry, who'd reached on an infield single and a hit-by-pitch, respectively. ECU countered with two runs in the bottom of the third. After McGee had retired the first seven Pirates and eight of the first nine ECU batters, a passed ball, hit-by-pitch, two-out RBI bunt single, a walk and a wild pitch allowed East Carolina to close the deficit to 3-2. The one-run lead stood until the bottom of the sixth, when McDonald led off the frame with a home run to left to tie the game at 3-3.
In the top of the 10th, Steve Wilgus (Woolwich, N.J./Gloucester Catholic) led off with a walk before moving to second on Perry's sacrifice bunt. Gronsky's single to left put runners on the corners with one out, before Perret's flyout to left was deep enough to score Wilgus from third and give the Hawks the 4-3 lead. Yunginger got a groundout and a strikeout for the first two outs of the 10th, before surrendering a single to Reynolds. But Yunginger followed by inducing a lazy McDonald flyout to right to end the game.
The Hawks continue their three-game series at East Carolina Saturday. First pitch from Lewis Field at Clark-LeClair Stadium is scheduled for 2 p.m.