April 10, 2009
NEW BRITAIN, CT - Junior Jeff Heppner had a pair of hits and three RBI, while Jared Balbach tossed his first complete game of the season to lead the Sacred Heart baseball team to a 9-5 Northeast Conference win over Central Connecticut and earn a split of a doubleheader on Saturday.
Central took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first thanks to three straight singles with one out and an RBI ground out.
The Pioneers, 12-17-1 and 3-4 in the NEC, exploded for five in the top of the second. Hunter Phillips had the big blow with a two-run double. Heppner and Mike Drowne also drove in runs with singles and Tyler Santos had a sacrifice fly. SHU sent ten men to the plate in the inning.
Central, 13-10 and 3-4, got on back in the bottom of the second inning, but senior Phil Tantillo ripped his second homer of the season in the top of the fourth to make it 6-2.
Freshman Mike Olszyk launched a long homer to dead center to lead off the fifth to push the gap to 7-2. It was the sixth big fly of the year for the rookie, tying him for second on the team with Heppner, two behind Jeff Hanson.
The Blue Devils tried to hang in there with two in the bottom of the inning. Casey Walko led off with a homer to make it 7-3. After a Balbach strikeout, Central loaded the bases with a double and a pair of hit batters. Kyle Zaratoney lifted a long fly ball to right that was run down by SHU's Paul Schmidt. The Blue Devil base runners, believing the ball had fallen in for a hit, took off. The Pioneers eventually got the ball back in in the confusion and doubled the runner off first base that ended the inning. However, the umpires ruled that the runner from third had tagged up properly and scored before SHU was able to double the runner off for the third out and counted the run to make it 7-4.
The Pioneers shook the ruling off to score twice in the sixth on a two-run single by Heppner that made it 9-4. Pat Epps homered to lead off the seventh for the Blue Devils, but Balbach set down the next three batters to end the game and raise his record to 5-2.
The two teams will complete the four-game series on Sunday at noon at Beehive Field in New Britain.