WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – The Monmouth University baseball team split a Northeast Conference doubleheader with visiting Long Island University on Saturday afternoon. The Hawks topped the Blackbirds in the first game, 4-2, as freshman pitcher Ryan Buch (Yardley, Pa./Conwell Egan) went to 5-0 on the season, but fell to LIU, 4-1, in game two.
The split improves Monmouth to 18-11-1 and 4-3 in the NEC, while the Blackbirds improve to 7-19 overall and 2-5 in the league.
Buch improved to 5-0 on the season with his 4.2-inning effort in the first game, surrendering one run, on six hits, with five strikeouts, while junior Justin Esposito (Red Bank, N.J./Middletown North) picked up his third save, tossing the final inning, allowing one run. Freshman Matt Frazier (Whippany, N.J./Whippany Park) worked a scoreless inning and a third, in middle relief.
The Hawks posted a single run in the home half of the first frame, as Kyle Messineo (Cedar Grove, N.J./Cedar Grove) laced a one-out single, advanced to third on a failed pickoff attempt, and scored on Andy Meyers’ (Stratford, N.J./Sterling) single up the middle.
Messineo’s single to centerfield in the fourth inning, which plated Holland, gave the Hawks a 3-0 advantage, before LIU registered a run in the top of the fifth to trim the lead to 3-1. Orlando Cruz delivered the run-scoring single off of Buch, before Frazier entered and ended the threat with a strikeout, with two runners on base.
Monmouth reclaimed a three-run advantage in the sixth inning, when Kyle Higgins (Green Brook, N.J./Watchung Hills) and Messineo connected on back-to-back, two-out doubles, making the score 4-1.
LIU trimmed the lead to 4-2 in the top of the seventh off of Esposito, who surrendered consecutive singles to start the inning, before Trey Bell crossed the plate on a wild pitch.
Messineo ended the first game with three hits, two RBI and a run scored for the Hawks.
LIU scored four runs in the fifth inning, while reliever Ken Cedel pitched out of a no-out, bases loaded jam in the sixth frame, to pace the Blackbirds to a 4-1 victory.
In the fifth, LIU touched up Monmouth starter Brett Brach (Freehold, N.J./Freehold Township) for four runs on four hits, as Marcus Wynn and Bell delivered RBI-singles, and Cruz laced a two-run double to left centerfield.
Monmouth cut the edge to 4-1 in the sixth, as the Hawks loaded the bases with no outs off LIU starter, Adam Sauter. With the bases packed, Chris Collazo (Wall, N.J./Wall) laced a single just under the glove of first baseman James Jones, before Cedel entered and recorded three straight outs, including two strikeouts.
Sauter (1-2) earned the win for the Blackbirds, allowing one run on eight hits in five innings of work. Robbie Rowen, who went 4-for-6 from the plate in the two games, picked up his second save of the year, working a scoreless seventh inning.
Brach (1-3) was saddled with the loss for the Hawks, as the freshman worked 5.0 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits, while classmate Kyle Breese (Monmouth Junction, N.J./South Brunswick) tossed the final 2.0 frames, surrendering two hits.
Monmouth returns to action on Sunday, when the Hawks and Long Island faceoff in the final game of the Northeast Conference series. Due to the impending weather, first pitch has been moved up to 10 a.m, as senior Matt Coulson (Freehold, N.J./Freehold Boro) is set to get the start.