May 21, 2009
NEW BRITAIN, CT -
Junior Mike Drowne (S. Hadley, MA) ripped a two-run home run to center in the eighth inning to break a tie and help the #2 seeded Sacred Heart University baseball team to a 16-13 win over #3 seed Central Connecticut State Thursday afternoon at New Britain Stadium.
The win puts the Pioneers in the winner's bracker of the double-elimination tournament, where they will face #4 seed Monmouth on Friday at 3:30. Monmouth defeated top seed Wagner 14-8 in the opening game. It also lifted SHU's record to 28-25-1 and guarantees the program its first winning season in Division I.
SHU jumped on Central starter Derek Roberts for three runs in the first inning, doing it all with two outs. Senior Jeff Hanson (Woodstock, NY) walked and Tyler Santos (Johnson City, NY) followed with a double that scored Hanson. Junior Jeff Heppner (Aquboque, NY) then blasted a two-run homer to dead center that made it 3-0.
The Blue Devils got two back in the second on an RBI single by Tommy Meade and a groundout Sean Parker. CCSU took a 4-3 lead with two more in the fourth on an RBI triple by Meade, followed by a Parker double.
The Pioneers took the lead back in the bottom of the fourth. Senior Paul Schmidt (Amitville, NY) hit his ninth homer of the year to right center that tied the game at 4-4. Freshman Hunter Phillips (Monroe, CT) then reached on an infield single and reached second on an errant throw by Roberts. He went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly by Drowne.
With the bases loaded in the fifth inning Richie Tri singled to right field and plated two runs, giving the Blue Devils the 6-5 lead. Jay Schillaci reached on a fielder's choice, but following the play Tri advanced to third base as no one covered the base following the out. On the first pitch in the next at-bat, Meade hit a sacrifice fly, his third RBI, that scored Tri. Schillaci scored from third on an error by the catcher after a dribbler off the bat of freshman Mitch Wells. It was the third error of the inning for the Pioneers and made it 8-5.
Sacred Heart got one back in the bottom of the frame when Santos led off with a double off the left field wall. It was his 23rd double of the season and set a new school single-season record. He went to third on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI single to right field by freshman first baseman Robert Griffith (Lake Ronkonkoma, NY), cutting the Blue Devil lead to 8-6.
It looked like CCSU was going to take control of the game in the sixth when Casey Walko led off with a single up the middle. Anthony Scialdone walked and Pat Epps reached on the fourth Sacred Heart error to load the bases. Tri hit a grand slam to deep right center field off SHU reliever Chris Zaccherio (Manhasset, NY) for his sixth RBI of the game, matching the league record, and made it 12-6.
Hanson hit the third Pioneer homer of the game in the bottom of the sixth, a two-run shot to the opposite field that skipped off the top of the wall off Blue Devil reliever Taylor Kosakowski to cut the lead to 12-8.
They completed the comeback in the seventh, taking a 13-12 lead with five runs in the frame. Tantillo tripled with the bases loaded to plate three runs and cut it to one. He scored on a fielder's choice by Santos off Central reliever Ken Kerski, tying the game. Griffith singled to score the fifth run of the inning and give the Pioneers the 13-12 advantage.
Zaccherio started the eighth for the Pioneers but gave up a leadoff single to Epps. Senior Ryan Lynch (N. Babylon, NY) came out of the pen and gave up a single to Tri and a double to Schillaci that tied the game at 13-13. With runners on second and third and no one out, Lynch got Meade to ground to third and Santos got Tri at home trying to score. Parker then hit a ball to Santos who out-raced Schillaci to the bag for the force out at third. Wells ended the threat by lining to Phil Tantillo (Blue Point, NY) at short.
After MJ Schifano struck out to start the eighth off the third. Junior Steve Tedesco then ripped a single back up the middle to reach first. Drowne followed with the fourth Pioneer homer of the game to make it 15-13. The Pioneers weren't done, however. Tantillo singled and went to second on a wild pitch. Kerski intentionally walked Hanson, and got Santos to ground out, putting runners on second and third with two outs. Central walked Heppner intentionally to load the bases and face Griffith. He responded with an infield hit off the glove of Kerski, scoring Tantillo and giving SHU a three-run lead. It was the fourth hit of the game for the SHU freshman first baseman, and his third RBI.
Lynch hit Sean Allaire to lead off the top of the ninth and Walko followed with a single to put two on with none out. The senior hurler dug in and got Schialdone to foul out to Santos, struck out Epps and induced a grounder to second by Tri to end the game.
Lynch picked up the win with two innings of scoreless relief to even his record at 1-1. Kerski took the loss and fell to 6-5.
The four Pioneer homers gives them 67 for the season, extending their school record, and putting them just four away from tying the NEC record of 71 set by Quinnipiac in 1999.