by Patrick Gustavson
Following an impressive three-game sweep of in-conference foe Fairleigh Dickinson, Central Connecticut’s baseball team was unable to build on that success, dropping three of four games against non-conference opponents, starting with a home match-up against Fairfield on Tuesday.
Having been plagued with injuries so far, the team was happy to welcome back senior hurler Andrew Hinckley, who got the start on the bump. Hinckley started strong, striking out his first batter.
“He looked like the Andrew Hinckley that I really enjoy coaching,” head coach Charlie Hickey said.
However, Hinckley could only record two outs after experiencing more soreness in his arm.
After the game, Hickey was unsure the severity of the injury and said Hinckley would be re-evaluated following a trip to the team’s trainers.
The team then turned to senior Kyle Anderson, who surrendered just two hits in 4.1 innings, giving up no runs while striking out three.
Sophomore Arik Sypher entered the game in relief of Anderson and made just one mistake in three innings, leaving a ball-up to Stags third baseman Mitch Williams, who hit a three-run home run over the right-field wall, which was the difference in the 4-1 defeat.
Following the game, Hickey said his team still needed to put together productive at-bats in order to win games.
“When you give up four runs, you’d think you’d be successful,” Hickey said.
The team responded during Wednesday’s conference against Brown, dominating the Bears by a score of 17-2 to the tune of 22 hits.
Senior second baseman Dean Lockery had his best game of the season, going five-for-six with six runs batted in and four runs scored. He belted his first home run of the year in the bottom of the fifth.
Usually the team’s leadoff hitter, Lockery was moved to the three-hole for the game and credited his success to being up with guys on base, something he is not used to.
All in all, 12 Blue Devils had a hit on the game, including reserves Sean Udris and Justin Sportman, their first hits of the season.
Hickey credited his team’s success by going back to basics with their pre-game drills.
“I’d like to think that made some adjustments and was the reason we put some better at-bats together,” Hickey said.
Hickey also said the team would keep the line-up changes that included Lockery hitting third, Chris Kanios hitting leadoff, Peyton Stephens second and catcher Nick Garland moving from clean-up to seventh.
“When you put 17 runs on the board, you don’t change things,” Hickey said.
However, the success didn’t translate to their remaining two games of the week.
On Friday’s contest against Connecticut, the Blue Devils managed just one run on five hits, with the run coming on a bases-loaded walk.
Sophomore Brandon Fox made it just three innings, giving up five runs, and earning four, but Sypher bounced back, throwing four innings of one-run ball.
To round out the week, the team took on Hartford at Dunkin’ Donuts Park, the home of the Hartford Yardgoats.
The Blue Devil bats could not get going once again, falling to the Hawks 2-1. The team was simply no match for Nathan Florence, who struck out 12 in seven innings, yielding just four hits and one walk.
Though Central had the bases loaded in the eighth inning, they could only muster one run on a Guilmette sacrifice-fly, their only run of the game.
Mike Appel had another strong performance on the mound, showing his poor outing against LIU Brooklyn may have been an outlier. Appel gave up two runs in five innings while striking out four and not walking a Hawk. The team got three scoreless innings from Tom Curtin and starting outfielder Peyton Stephens.
The Blue Devils now move to 7-11 on the season, but remain 4-2 in Northeast Conference play. They’ll have a shot to improve their conference record with a four-game set against Sacred Heart next weekend, but will first take on Quinnipiac at home on Tuesday.