May 13, 2009
FAIRFIELD, CT - The Sacred Heart baseball team heads to Emmitsburg, MD to take on Mount St. Mary's in the final Northeast Conference series of the 2009 season. At stake for both teams are berths in the NEC Tournament scheduled for next week. SHU is currently tied for first at 14-8, while the Mount is right behind at 13-9.
About the Pioneers: The return of injured players from 2008, a transfer, and a couple of talented freshmen have helped the Pioneers back to the top of the Northeast Conference standings. Since winning the NEC Tournament in 2006, the Pioneers have failed to make it back to post-season. However, with four games left the Pioneers need just one win to get back into the playoffs, scheduled for May 21-23 at Rock Cats Stadium in New Britain, CT.
About the Mount: Mount St. Mary's won three of four games at Central Connecticut State last weekend to remain in contention for a spot in the NEC playoffs. Sophomore outfielder Shane Eyler hit .533 in the four-game series, belting a pair of home runs. Eyler hit a two-run homer in the top of the 10th inning to lift the Mount to an 11-9 win in the completion of the suspended game in the opener of the series.
SHU vs. The Mount: The Pioneers hold an 13-10 record all-time vs. the Mountaineers, though The two teams splite a four-game series at Sacred Heart last season. SHU is 4-6 all-time on the road in the series.
What a Relief: Junior Chris Zaccherio has been Mr. Lights Out in the Pioneer bullpen of late. In conference play, Zaccherio has made eight appearances and thrown 27 innings with a 2.60 ERA. His most recent outing came Sunday against Wagner and the junior righty threw four perfect innings and got the win when Mike Drowne hit a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 12th inning.
Balbach Excels in the Classroom: Junior Jared Balbach was named to the Second Team of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) District I Academic All-America Team. District one encompasses all of New England and New York. Balbach, a business major, has a 3.84 GPA.
Monster Mashing: The 2009 edition of the Pioneers is going where no SHU team has gone before, offensively. The Pioneers have clubbed a school-record 52 homers, breaking the mark of 45 set all the way back in 1981 when the Pioneers were a Division II team. SHU has also put up 336 records, smashing the record of 307 set in 1991.
Double H: A pair of Pioneers sluggers have combined for 33 doubles, 21 homers, 100 RBI and a .393 batting average. Senior first baseman Jeff Hanson is leading the Northeast Conference with a .418 average, while hitting a career-high ten homers with 45 RBI. In the process, Hanson became just the third player in SHU history with 200 career hits. Junior transfer catcher Jeff Heppner (Vermont) is hitting a cool .358 in his first season with Pioneers and has hit 11 homers and driven in a school record 55 RBI.