WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – Junior lefthander Andrew McGee (Toms River, N.J./Toms River South) threw his third-straight complete game, a four-hit shutout to give the Monmouth University baseball team a 3-0 win over Central Connecticut State on Thursday afternoon at the MU Baseball Field. Craig Sweeney’s (Middletown, N.J./Middletown South) three-run double in the third inning gave McGee all the run support he needed. The Hawks even their record to 10-10 (3-2 NEC) while CCSU falls to 9-8 (4-1 NEC).
McGee improved to 4-1 on the season, completing his fourth game in his last five starts. The southpaw has not allowed a run since the 4th inning of a win at Virginia Commonwealth back on March 15. He struck out six Blue Devils in the effort. After setting down Central Connecticut in order in the first, McGee allowed his first hit of the day to Tyler McIntyre leading off the second. He responded by retiring the next 14 consecutive hitters, not allowing another baserunner until there were two down in the sixth.
Offensively for the Blue and White, Jake Gronsky (Danville, Pa./Danville Area) went 2-for-4 with a run scored and Kyle Perry (Toms River, N.J./Toms River South) notched a pair of hits and scored a run. Eight of the nine Hawks who started the game reached base, seven of whom had a hit.
Central Connecticut State scattered four hits on the afternoon, two of them from JP Sportman who contributed a 2-for-4 day at the plate. Casey Brown got the nod on the mound for Charlie Hickey’s squad, allowing three earned runs on nine hits through eight innings, striking out three. He falls to 1-2 on the year.
The Hawks got on the board first with two outs in the bottom of the third. After Perry and Gronsky singled, a walk to Chris Perret (Morris Plains, N.J./Morris Catholic) loaded the bases in front of Sweeney. The sophomore delivered, knocking a line-drive double to left center that split the gap and rolled to the warning track, clearing the bases and putting MU up 3-0.
There was no scoring through the next three frames before Central Connecticut threatened in the top of the 7th, putting the first two runners on. McGee got some help from his defense to escape the jam. On a 1-2 offering, Dominic Severino hit a sharp ground ball to third. Owen Stewart (Howell, N.J./St. Rose) snagged it, stepped on third for the force out, and delivered a low throw to first that was scooped out by Perret for the double play. With two down in the frame, Ryan Beal hit a fly ball down the right field line that saw Sweeney hustle into foul ground and make a sliding grab to end the inning. MU remained in front 3-0 at the end of eight.
In the ninth, McGee had to face the top of the Blue Devils in order to nail down the win. After inducing a Dylan DelaCruz flyout to left and a Nick Palmisano comebacker on just four pitches, he allowed a two-out single to center off the bat of Sportman. McGee put the finishing touches on the MU victory by getting McIntyre to fly out to left on a 3-2 pitch, handing Central Connecticut its first loss in conference play.
Monmouth continues its weekend series with Central Connecticut State tomorrow, Friday March 29, with two seven-inning games as part of a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. at MU Baseball Field.