WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – Craig Sweeney (Middletown, N.J./Middletown South) had a pair of home runs and five RBI’s and Steve Wilgus (Woolwich, N.J./Gloucester Catholic) chipped in with five hits and five runs scored as the Monmouth University baseball team swept a Northeast Conference doubleheader with Sacred Heart Saturday afternoon at MU Baseball Field. The Hawks took a 6-3 victory in Game 1 before erupting for 18 runs on 19 hits in an 18-4 Game 2 win. With the sweep, the Hawks improve to 26-18 (16-7 NEC), while the Pioneers fall to 20-19 (15-8 NEC).
All told, the Hawks scored 24 runs on 27 hits Saturday. Owen Stewart (Howell, N.J./St. Rose) reached base safely in six of eight plate appearances, going 4-for-6 with four runs scored, three RBI’s and two walks. Chris Perret (Morris Plains, N.J./Morris Catholic) stayed hot, going 3-for-5 with two doubles, four runs scored, two RBI’s, a walk and a hit-by-pitch. In addition to the two home runs, Sweeney also reached base on a walk and a hit-by-pitch and drove in a run on a sacrifice fly. Joe Bamford (Washington, N.J./Warren Hills Regional [Northampton C.C.]) and Jake Gronsky (Danville, Pa./Danville Area) added three hits apiece, while Kyle Perry (Toms River, N.J./Toms River South) and Connor White (Wall, N.J./Wall) had two hits apiece.
T.J. Hunt (Wyckoff, N.J./Ramapo) got the Game 1 win on the mound for the Hawks, allowing two earned runs on four hits and two walks, while striking out three in 5.0 innings pitched. Stephen Frey (Washingtonville, N.Y./Washingtonville) and Jeff Paglione (Mantua, N.J./Gloucester Catholic) hurled one inning each in relief without allowing an earned run to close the door on Game 1. In Game 2, Frank Trimarco (Merrick, N.Y./Sanford H. Calhoun) went the distance in moving to 5-0 on the season, scattering seven hits and a walk and striking out four. He allowed four runs, three earned in 7.0 innings of work.
Brian Lamboy, John Murphy and Dan Perez led Sacred Heart with two hits each. Dave Boisture drove in three runs for the Pioneers, while Murphy drove in two. Nick Leiningen took the loss on the mound in Game 1, allowing six earned runs on eight hits and two walks without striking out a batter in 5.0 innings. Jeff Stoddard, who entered the day with a sterling 1.51 ERA in 47.2 innings pitched over eight appearances, was touched up for eight runs, seven earned, on 10 hits and two walks in 4.0 innings pitched. He struck out one.
The Hawks never trailed in Game 1, scoring two runs in the first and three more in the third to take a 5-0 lead. After Wilgus singled with one out in the first, Perret doubled down the right field line to plate the first run. Stewart then singled to score Perret with the second run. In the third, four-straight Hawks had base hits and five straight reached safely en route to three runs. Wilgus singled, Perret doubled and Stewart and Bamford each followed with RBI singles. Following a failed attempt at the lead runner on Perry’s sacrifice bunt, Sweeney’s sacrifice fly pushed the Hawks’ lead to 5-0.
Sacred Heart got two runs back in the top of the fourth. A walk and a two-out Perez double scored Lamboy with the first run, before Derick Horn’s single through the right side plated Perez. After a scoreless fifth, Sweeney connected on a home run down the left field line to stake MU to a 6-2 lead. Frey began the seventh with a walk and an error allowed the run to come around to score, but Paglione limited the damage to that one run in recording the final three outs.
In Game 2, the Hawks again scored twice in the bottom of the first. Gronsky tripled to lead off the home half of the inning, before scoring on a Wilgus groundout. Perret was then plunked, moved to second on a Stewart single and took third on a fielder’s choice. A delayed steal attempt from Bamford drew an errant throw from Sacred Heart catcher Rocco Gondek, allowing Perret to score with two outs.
Sacred Heart took its first and only lead of the day with a four-run top of the third. Murphy’s two-run triple tied the game before Boisture homered down the right field line to give SHU a 4-2 lead. But the Hawks immediately countered with two runs in the bottom half of the inning. Consecutive singles from Stewart and Bamford preceded a Sweeney walk to load the bases. Guida then hit a sacrifice fly to score Stewart and Perry singled home Bamford to tie the score at 4-4 after three innings.
The Hawks took the lead for good in the fourth and put up crooked numbers in each of their last three innings at the plate. Wilgus doubled and, after Perret walked, moved to third on a fielder’s choice. Bamford then fought off an inside pitch to single to the opposite field with two outs to score Wilgus with the go-ahead run. Sweeney then delivered a decisive blow to the Pioneers with a three-run home run to left, giving MU an 8-4 lead.
Five more runs in the fifth and sixth innings put the game on ice for the Hawks. White, Wilgus and Perret chipped in with RBI singles, while two more scored on a would-be RBI groundout by Stewart on which the second baseman committed an error and Guida’s second sacrifice fly of the game.
In the sixth, the Hawks greeted reliever Billy McDonough with three-straight singles, the last by Wilgus to score White. Robbie Alessandrine (Sewell, N.J./Gloucester Catholic) then singled home Gronsky before McDonough left with an injury. Connor Landers took his place on the mound and, after walking Stewart, was greeted rudely with a two-run double from pinch hitter Dave Moreno (Voorhees, N.J./Eastern Regional). Guida rounded out the scoring with his third sacrifice fly of the game to score Stewart.
The Hawks conclude their Northeast Conference series with Sacred Heart with a nine-inning game on Sunday afternoon at the MU Baseball Field. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.