by Patrick Gustavson
The defending Northeast Conference Champion Central Connecticut baseball team took the field for the first time this weekend, taking on North Dakota State in Florida.
On Friday, the Blue Devils were completely shut down by hurler Riley Johnson, who tossed a complete game, no-hitter. He allowed just two baserunners all game on a walk and an error and fanned eight in the effort, leading to the 2-0 victory for the Bison.
On the bright side for the team, senior pitcher Andrew Hinckley returned to action after missing most of last year with a back injury and gave up just one (unearned) run in six innings. He struck out four Bison, but also walked four.
Saturday’s match-up was a completely different story for the Blue Devils, when their offense erupted for nine runs on 14 hits, leading to their 9-2 victory. Sophomore third baseman Buddy Dewaine had a home run and a double, with four runs batted in.
Four other Blue Devils had multi-hit games, including senior second baseman Dean Lockery, sophomore center fielder Chandler Debrosse and freshmen outfielders Peyton Stephens and Jake Siracusa.
Junior pitcher Mike Appel made his first start of the season and gave up just one unearned run in six innings to go with four strikeouts.
In the rubber match on Sunday, the Blue Devil offense cooled off, falling by a score of 4-0.
The team managed just three hits, once again from Lockery, Debrosse and Siracusa.
Also returning from injury was senior Brett Susi, who missed the entirety of last season following shoulder surgery. He surrendered two runs in four innings. Though not as effective as Hinckley or Appel, Susi’s return will surely be welcomed by the team.
Another pitcher returning from injury was sophomore pitcher Brandon Fox, who was nearly perfect in three innings, not allowing a hit and striking out three batters.
Entering the weekend, head coach Charlie Hickey said the team planned on trying a variety of different lineups and incorporating as many pitchers as possible.
Though there were many staples in the lineup that appeared in all three games like Lockery, Dewaine, first baseman TT Bowens and senior left fielder Mitch Guilmette, Hickey did toy with the lineup on a few occasions.
The aforementioned freshmen duo of Stephens and Siracusa got the start on both Saturday and Sunday, and capitalized on the opportunity, both getting three hits on the weekend.
Ten total pitchers saw the rubber for the Blue Devils. Patrick Mitchell, Kyle Anderson, Jared Gallagher, Tom Curtin, Michael Delease and Arik Sypher all saw relief action throughout the weekend.
Next weekend, the Blue Devils will head to South Carolina for a three-game set against Furman.