NORWICH, Conn.— The Sacred Heart Baseball team was unable to hold an early lead as the second-seeded Central Connecticut State took game three of the Northeast Conference baseball tournament, 10-4 on Saturday afternoon. The Pioneers (22-35) drop to the elimination bracket, while the Blue Devils (35-20) move on to the championship round.
Sacred Heart got things going early as senior Ted Shaw led off the game reaching on an error by Ryan Costello on his infield on his pop up. Freshman Elijah Brown and senior Keith Klebart followed with back-to-back singles to load the bases. Redshirt junior PJ DeFilippo worked a seven pitch RBI walk to drive in the first run of the game. Junior Anthony Capozziello, in the five spot in the order followed with a two RBI single up the middle to give SHU the early 3-0 lead. The Pioneers added another run in the inning on a wild pitch by Mike Appel to score Capozziello from third base for the 4-0 margin.
CCSU answered in the top of the second inning with a leadoff home run by TT Bowens to right center field. They continued to rally loading the bases with one man out. Tyler Coleman lased a ball to third base that DeFilippo mishandled for the second run of the frame. Senior John Sostarich then walked Costello with the bases loaded to bring the Blue Devils within one. Mitch Guilmette lifted a sacrifice fly to deep right center that scored not only Lockery from third but Franklin Jennings from second base to give CCSU the 5-4 lead.
Appel settled down in the third and fourth inning allowing just two singles over the two innings. The Blue Devils continued to capitalize at the plate as Costello poked a bases loaded two-out double to left center field, extending the lead to 9-4. Jennings lifted a sacrifice fly to deep center field in the sixth to give CCSU the 10-4 edge.
The Pioneers looked to make something happen in the bottom half of the sixth inning as Thibault roped a single to second base with two outs. Shaw followed with a double to the gap in right center field. Brown then worked a six pitch walk to load the bases. But the All-NEC second team selection, Appel, picked up a big strikeout to Klebart to escape the jam.
SHU would strand two runners on base in both the seventh and eighth innings as Blue Devils relievers Mike Delease and Jared Gallagher evaded trouble. Gallagher tossed a 1-2-3 ninth inning to bring the final to 10-4.
Shaw, Klebart and Thibault led the Pioneers offense with multi-hit games. Both teams stranded 12 runners on base, while CCSU narrowly outhit the Pioneers 13-10 on the day. The Pioneers used seven pitchers in the ballgame, with Sostarich taking the loss allowing five runs, three earned in two innings of work.
The Pioneers will take on the winner of the elimination game between Bryant and Wagner, tonight at 7:00 p.m. The winner will meet CCSU In the championship game tomorrow at noon.