Kyle Dorau / The Recorder
If the Blue Devils Baseball team does not qualify for the Northeast Conference tournament, they know exactly what weekend to look at as a missed opportunity.
Mount St. Mary’s came up to Central and took three out of four from CCSU this past weekend at Beehive Stadium in New Britain.
Thursday night, the teams played a nailbiter that was halted due to fog with the Blue Devils up 7-6 in the eighth inning. Friday, the Mountaineers swept a twinbill from Central, winning each game by just a single run, 9-8 and 4-3.
Saturday, the teams finished the halted game, as Central could not hold the late one-run lead and were outscored 5-2 the rest of the way. In the scheduled game that afternoon, Derek Roberts carried the team to its lone victory of the weekend, backed by an eight-run fifth inning.
For the Blue Devils, one bad weekend made them drop from a tie for first in the NEC all the way to fifth place, on the outside looking in at postseason play.
On Friday, junior shortstop Anthony Scialdone’s hitting streak was snapped at 28 games. He went 0-3 against Mount starter Costa Kapothanasis in game one of the doubleheader, and was on deck when Casey Walko struck out looking to end the ballgame.
Senior outfielder Jay Schillaci lost his sixteen-game hitting streak in the second game, as he went 0-4 in a 9-8 CCSU loss.
The Blue Devils’ missed opportunities were punctuated by the second game of the doubleheader on Friday. The Mount’s closer Mike Matta was pitching for the second time that day, after earning the save in the first game. All Central had to do to win was just score one run in the bottom of the seventh.
Junior outfielder Richie Tri led off the inning with a single. Junior first baseman Tommy Meade hit a ball right back to Matta, who airmailed the throw into center field, allowing the runners to move to second and third with nobody out.
The Mountaineers opted to intentionally walk Sean Parker, loading the bases. Mitch Wells, Sean Allaire, and Casey Walko of the Blue Devils all grounded out, and Central missed a golden opportunity to grab a game from Mount St. Mary’s.
The halted game could be looked at as another lost chance to pick up a game in the standings. Upon the resumption of the game Saturday, the Mount struck for three runs in the top half of the eighth, as freshman Jason Foster struggled, giving up a run in facing four batters.
Head Coach Charlie Hickey went to Ken Kerski in relief, who had pitched seven innings in a losing effort the day before. Kerski gave up a two-run double to Mountaineer Kyle Kane right off the bat, driving in a pair of runners charged to Foster.
The Blue Devils tied it up in the bottom of the eighth on a Mitch Wells single and a Sean Allaire RBI groundout. They had a chance to win in the bottom of the ninth. With the bases loaded and two out, senior catcher Sean Parker flew out to center field.
The Mount would take a lead on a Shane Eyler two-run home run in the top of the tenth, and Central had no answer, falling 11-9.
A bright spot for the Blue Devils this weekend was the effort of senior lefthander Derek Roberts. The New Britain native pitched eight innings, giving up just three runs on Saturday. Roberts improved to 6-1 on the season, and remains unbeaten in Northeast Conference play.
Roberts got plenty of run support, as the Blue Devils finally got a complete team effort. The offense backed Roberts’ quality start with a 15-run effort, including an eight-run fifth inning.
That frame saw the Blue Devils have a stretch of four straight base hits before an out was even recorded. With two outs, Central strung together five more hits in a row, including three doubles.
The Blue Devils called on Sean Parker to pitch the ninth. He managed a perfect inning, inducing a popup, groundout, and a strikeout.
Central now has to do what they’ve done all season, which is win on the road. They travel to Monmouth this weekend, who are currently in a tie for first in the Northeast Conference.
Despite five teams fighting for four spots, the standings are still so tight that heading into the final weekend of the season, no team has qualified for the NEC Tournament.
Central will play a single nine-inning game Friday at 3 p.m., a seven-inning doubleheader Saturday at 12 noon, and a nine-inning contest to close out the regular season Sunday at 1 p.m.
Regardless of whether or not the Blue Devils make the NEC Tournament, it will be hosted at New Britain Stadium, home of the New Britain Rock Cats.