SHU Baseball Set for Northeast Conference Tournament

Northeast Conference Baseball Tournament

May 22-26, 2014  

Dodd Memorial Stadium - Norwich, CT

#3 Sacred Heart vs. #2 Central Connecticut State,

Thursday May 22nd, 3:30 PM

Full Game Notes

Live Audio

Setting the Scene...
The Sacred Heart Pioneers return to Dodd Stadium looking for their third Northeast Conference Championship in four seasons. SHU comes in as the number three seed after entering the past two tournaments as the two seed. SHU won back-to-back titles in Norwich in 2011 and 2012, before falling to Bryant in last year's championship game. Sacred Heart captured its first NEC Championship in 2006.

Back in the Tournament...
The Pioneers return to the NEC Tournament for the sixth consecutive season (longest current streak of any NEC team), reaching the championship game in each of the past five years. The Pioneers are 16-8 all-time in the NEC Tournament.

Familiar Foe...
The Pioneers met CCSU in a four-game series just one week ago in New Britain. The Pioneers and Blue Devils split the four game set, with SHU taking both nine-inning games. SHU and CCSU have met seven times in the NEC Tournament, with Sacred Heart leading the series 5-2. The Pioneers defeated the Blue Devils twice on their way to the 2006 NEC Championship, while CCSU downed SHU to grab the 2010 title.

Clutch Kerski...
Senior right-hander Kody Kerski will take the mound on Thursday
afternoon against CCSU, his fourth career start in the NEC Tournament. Kerski is a perfect 3-0 in the NEC Tournament, and was the winning pitcher in both of Sacred Heart's championship games in 2011 and 2012. The senior has a career 1.43 earned run average in 25.2 innings pitched in the NEC Tournament. Last season, Kerski struck out 12 in 7.2 innings against LIU Brooklyn to propel SHU into the title game.

Shorty and Sully…
The Pioneers have been led offensively this season by freshman shortstop Zack Short and sophomore outfielder Jayson Sullivan. Short and Sullivan lead SHU in almost every offensive category. Short leads the team with a .335 batting average, 63 hits, 40 runs scored and .423 on-base percentage, while Sullivan has a team-high 35 RBI, 11 doubles, 4 home runs, and a .443 slugging percentage. Sullivan has earned two NEC Player of the Week awards this season, while Short has collected two NEC Rookie of the Week honors.

Beastly Bullpen...
Juniors James Cooksey and Dan Wertz have combined to become the best bullpen in the Northeast Conference. The side-arming duo have a combined 1.33 earned run average this season in 88.2 innings pitched. Cooksey's 1.01 ERA is tops in the NEC and ranks second in the country.

New Cast of Characters...
Compared to the lineup in Sacred Heart's first round game against Monmouth last season, the Pioneers will have seven new players in the starting nine against CCSU. Jayson Sullivan and Jesus Medina will be the only starters that remain the same. Derick Horn did not play in the opener of the tournament last season but started the final two games of the season. Sacred Heart will start three freshmen against CCSU, which is the most of any of the four teams in the tournament.

The Other Freshmen...
Although Zack Short often steals the headlines, freshmen Ted Shaw, Keith Klebart, and Jason Foley have all been key contributors for Sacred Heart this season. Shaw accompanies Short up the middle at second base, while Klebart has played five different positions this season. Foley has been a main stay as a weekend starter for SHU. Klebart ranks third on the team with a .288 batting average to go along with 17 RBI. Foley recorded a 3-3 record with a 3.38 ERA in 56 innings pitched.

Evenly Matched Field...
The Pioneers split four-game series with all three of the teams in this year's NEC Tournament, while Bryant's only conference losses have come against SHU, Wagner and CCSU. Bryant split with Wagner and took three of four from CCSU.