BROOKLYN – Sacred Heart rode the arm of James Cooksey to a 5-2 victory in its Northeast Conference opener at LIU Brooklyn on Thursday afternoon. The Pioneers begin their title defense with a fifth win in their previous seven games, moving to 6-10 on the year.
Working with a 3-0 lead, Cooksey's lone blemish in seven innings of work was a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth, the lone extra base hit for the Blackbirds on the afternoon. He worked around six hits and three walks to earn his second win of the season. It did not come easy though, as he had to work out of his biggest jam in his final inning. Two walks and a hit by pitch loaded the bases with one out, but the graduate student bore down for one final batter, inducing an inning ending double play.
LIU Brooklyn (5-12) made things interesting again when Jeff Stoddard came on in relief in the eighth. Brian Lamboy would lead off with a walk and work his way around the bases to third on a balk and wild pitch. That allowed him to come into the make it a 3-2 game on Dom Paiotti's one-out grounder to first base.
Sacred Heart would answer in the top of the ninth though, giving Stoddard some comfort with two-out, RBI singles from Jayson Sullivan and Victor Sorrento. Sullivan's single scored Ted Shaw, who had singled with one out, before he came around for the final run on Sorrento's base hit.
All three Pioneers involved in the two-run ninth inning had multiple base hits, led by Sorrento's fourth three hit day of the year. Sullivan's RBI was his second of the afternoon while Shaw's run was his second, as the two also combined to plate Sacred Heart's run in the first. Jake Friar added two hits and doubled SHU's lead with a RBI bunt single in the sixth
Shaw manufactured the first inning run after opening the game with a walk. He then stole second and moved up to third on Jesus Medina's fly out to right field, before easily scoring on Sullivan's deep sacrifice fly to left.
Each team had just one runner reach scoring position over the next four and a half innings, including LIU stranding one at third in the bottom of the fourth.
Sacred Heart finally broke through in the sixth beginning with Zack Short's one out walk. He then stole second and reached third on a throwing error by the catcher, and after Keith Klebart's base on ball, came in on Friar's RBI bunt single.
That marked the end of the day for Blackbird starter Baylor Lapointe, who up until that point was locked in a pitching dual with Cooksey. Only two of the three runs charged to him were earned, as he struck out seven but gave up five hits and walked five.
Thanks to head up base running by Klebart, who took third on Friar's bunt single, Cody Doyle's sacrifice fly to center field then made the score 3-0 on Nick Freijomil's first at bat. That would be the beginning of 2.2 innings of scoreless relief for Freijomil.
Four Blackbirds accounted for LIU Brooklyn's seven hits, as Lamboy, Paiotti and Camilo each had multi-hit days. Lamboy hit the sixth inning home run and also walked once.
Sacred Heart and LIU will continue their four-game series tomorrow with a doubleheader beginning 1 pm.