(New Britain, CT) - The Sacred Heart Pioneers swept a doubleheader with the CCSU Blue Devils, 11-4 and 8-6, clinching a post-season spot in the NEC Baseball Tournament Saturday afternoon.
In game one, Nick Leiningen (Millwood, NY) cruised through his fifth complete game of the season, improving to 5-3 in allowing four runs (three in the final inning) on eight hits. The Pioneers scored three in the second on an error and RBI singles by MJ Schifano (Monroe, NY) and JJ Edwards (Endwell, NY). The Pioneers tacked on two more in the third on an RBI single by Dan Perez and a run-scoring error.
In the fourth, Steve Tedesco (Mission Viejo, CA) and Rob Griffith (Lake Ronkonkoma, NY) both hit solo homeruns to make it 7-0. Tedesco's homerun was his first of the season, while Griffith went deep for his team leading fourth homerun and second in as many games. CCSU scored in the fourth on an RBI single by Sean Miller-Jones , but the Pioneers broke the game open in the fifth on a bases-loaded two-out three-run triple to right-center by Griffith, following a bases-loaded walk to Edwards.
In game two, the Pioneers jumped to another quick lead on an RBI double by Griffith, an RBI single by John Murphy (Seymour, CT), and an RBI triple by Phillips. SHU made it a 5-0 lead in the third, beginning with a heads-up base-running play by Tedesco. After doubling to left, he scored from second on a bunt hit by Edwards, racing home with a headfirst slide ahead of the throw from CCSU pitcher Nick Nuemann. Another run came in when Phillips hit into a double play.
CCSU rallied with six in the fifth, getting to SHU starting pitcher Kody Kerski (Waterbury, CT) after he shutout the Blue Devils on one hit through four innings. An RBI single by JP Sportman, a sacrifice fly by Normand Gosselin, a run-scoring hit by Danny Hickey, and a game-tying two-run single by Anthony Turgeon chased Kerski from the game, bringing on Robbie Maguire (Brooklyn, NY) in relief. He gave up a go-ahead RBI double by Pat Epps to give CCSU a 6-5 lead.
However, Schifano doubled high off the centerfield fence with two outs in the sixth to score Dave Boisture (Highland Mills, NY) with the tying run. Then, in the seventh, Phillips drove in the game-winning run with two outs on a line-drive single to centerfield. The Pioneers added insurance on an RBI single by Perez.
Maguire struck out the side in the seventh, earning the win and improving to 3-0 with 2.1 scoreless innings and four strikeouts.
The Pioneers improved to 19-8 in conference and 26-20 overall, securing their spot in the NEC Baseball Tournament at Dodd Stadium in Norwich, CT May 19-22. The Pioneers are comfortably in third place, now only a half game behind second-place LIU.