WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – The Monmouth University baseball team split a Northeast Conference doubleheader with Central Connecticut State on Saturday afternoon. The Blue Devils topped the Hawks 5-3 in game one, while Brad Brach’s (Freehold, N.J./Freehold Township) complete-game, two-hitter in game two, led Monmouth to a 2-0 victory.
In the first game, CCSU netted two runs in the top of the sixth inning to break a 3-3 tie, en route to the victory for Ken Kerski (6-1). With the game knotted, Matt Memoli drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Sean Salvatore then delivered an RBI double, and later scored on a fielding error.
The Blue Devils went ahead 1-0 in the first when Garrett Walker reached on an error and crossed the plate on an Adam Taha double. CCSU pushed the lead to 2-0 in the second frame after consecutive singles and a Walker run-scoring single up the middle with two outs.
The Hawks plated to runs in the bottom of the second to knot the score as Justin Braun (Stony Brook, N.Y./St. John the Baptist) delivered an RBI single with two runners on, and John Dennis (Union, N.J./Union) laced a run-scoring double. On the Dennis double, the Blue Devils’ Salvatore threw a strike to catcher Taha on a relay, to gun down Braun at the plate.
CCSU went up 3-2 in the third, as Memoli laced a single down the leftfield line, plating Casey Walko. The Hawks tied the game once again in the bottom of the third when Kyle Higgins (Green Brook, N.J./Watchung Hills) led off with a double and scored on an Andy Meyers’ (Stratford, N.J./Sterling) sac fly.
Ryan Buch (Yardley, Pa./Conwell Egan) was saddled with his first loss of the season (6-1) after starting the year 6-0. The freshman worked 6.0 innings, allowing three runs on eight hits, while striking out three. Kyle Breese (Monmouth Junction, N.J./South Brunswick) worked the final frame for MU, allowing no runs on no hits.
Kerski worked 6.1 innings, allowing three runs on five hits, while punching out five and walking four. Evan Scribner picked up his second save of the year, by collecting the last two outs of the game, which included a strikeout.
Brach tossed his fourth straight complete-game victory in game two, working 7.0 innings, surrendering just two singles, in the shutout win to earn his fourth straight decision. The junior struck out seven batters in his second shutout. The win gives Brach 18 for his career, which ties him for third place overall in MU history with Joe Aragona.
Monmouth got on the board first with a single run in the bottom of the third, as Higgins led off with a single and advanced to third on Meyers’ single. After a hit-by-pitch absorbed by Rick Niederhaus (Whitehouse Station, N.J./Hunterdon Central) loaded the bases, Chris Collazo (Wall, N.J./Wall) lifted a sacrifice fly to put the Hawks ahead 1-0.
The Blue and White went ahead 2-0 in the fifth frame when Kyle Messineo (Cedar Grove, N.J./Cedar Grove) connected on a one-out single, advanced on a wild pitch, and scored on a Niederhaus double.
Matt Gianini (1-5) was credited with the loss for the Blue Devils, working 6.0 innings, allowing two runs on seven hits, while striking out four.
Monmouth and Central Connecticut State continue the NEC series on Sunday, with a doubleheader (9 innings/7 innings), starting at noon.