(Bridgeport, CT) – The Sacred Heart Pioneers scored three times in the eighth inning, scoring the game-tying and go-ahead runs with two outs in a 3-2 comeback win over the Monmouth Hawks in the opener of the final four-game series of the season.
Billy McDonough (Ballston Spa, NY) tied the game with a two-out single to centerfield, then scored the winning run on a an RBI double by John Murphy (Seymour, CT. He slid in ahead of the throw from left-fielder Ed martin, who laid out for but came up short on Murphy's fly ball down the left field line, caroming the ball of his chest into foul territory. After stranding 12 runners through the first seven innings, the Pioneers first got on the board earlier in the inning on an RBI double to deep right-centerfield by Connor McEvoy (Watertown, CT) after Derick Horn (Valatie, NY) singled to lead off the rally.
Nick Leiningen (Millwood, NY) through his seventh complete game of the year to earn his fifth win, giving up two runs on seven hits with four strikeouts in nine innings. He locked into a pitcher's duel with highly-touted Monmouth ace Pat Light, who battled through six shutout innings, scattering six hits with ten strikeouts.
Monmouth pushed across the game's first run in the sixth when Chris Perret barely reached safely at first, as the Pioneers nearly turned a 3-6-3 double play that would have gotten Leiningen out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam. The Hawks opened up a 2-0 lead on an RBI double to left by Jamie Rosenkranz in the eighth.
With the win, Sacred Heart's magic number for qualifying for next week's NEC Baseball Tournament at Dodd Stadium in Norwich, CT is now two – meaning any combination of two SHU wins or Wagner losses (although Wagner can also catch CCSU, who is one game better than the Seahawks for the last spot in the four-team bracket). The Pioneers have an opportunity to clinch tomorrow, as they host the Hawks in a doubleheader at 1:00 pm. Troy Scribner (Washington Depot, CT) gets the start in game one, while Robbie Maguire (Brooklyn, NY) gets the ball in game two.