Sacred Heart Completes Four-Game Sweep of CCSU
By Christopher McLaughlin
If good pitching and defense is the recipe for success in baseball, it’s no wonder why the CCSU Baseball team (23-21-1) was swept in its four game series against Sacred Heart (27-20).
Blue Devils pitching surrendered a combined 23 earned runs, and the eight errors the CCSU fielders committed led to seven unearned runs, bringing the total to 30. To put it into perspective, Sacred Heart pitching allowed 16 earned runs and the three errors the Pioneers’ committed errors only led to one unearned run.
Though the CCSU bats were able to get hits off of Sacred Heart pitching, the team was nowhere near as productive as the Pioneers. In the entire series, CCSU hit four extra base hits, while Sacred Heart hit 17. CCSU hit no homeruns, Sacred Heart hit four.
Mitch Wells, Pat Epps, and JP Sportman combined for 15 hits, and 5 RBI. Sacred Heart’s 3-5 hitters, combined for 17 hits and 12 RBI.
Though there were very few bright spots in a series in which CCSU was out-played, the Blue Devils at least showed heart. All four games saw the Blue Devils battle until the end, regardless of the score. Even with the valiant effort, the damage done could not be overcome, and Sacred Heart was victorious.
“For the first time in a long while, we deserved this,” said Head Coach Charlie Hickey. “We didn’t pitch well, played very poor defense, and ran into an aggressive offense, it’s kind of the perfect storm for getting swept. If there is a silver lining, it’s that we didn’t quit. These are the wars you go through, and you have to persevere through them.”
The series opened up with CCSU taking a 3-0 lead in the second inning over the Pioneers. While the offense was clicking, CCSU starter Todd Savatsky threw three no-hit innings, but then things began to fall apart.
CCSU maintained its lead until the sixth inning, but Rob Griffith led off blasting a pitch over the score board in left-center. After a few more base hits, a throwing error led to Sacred Heart’s second run of the inning, and drove Savatsky from the game.
The first batter relief pitcher Ray Natoli faced, hit what appeared to be a deep fly ball that ended up being carried over the fence by the wind, for two more Sacred Heart runs. Natoli got out of the inning without any more damage, but enough had been done.
CCSU was able to cut into the lead on a Dylan Delacruz sac fly, but Sacred Heart canceled out the run by picking up one more in the eighth. The Blue Devils led off the ninth with a base hit, but it was quickly erased on a double play. After the twin killing, Sacred Heart shut the door on the Blue Devils comeback, and closed out the first game 7-4.
“It didn’t seem like we were able to capitalize on our opportunities,” said Hickey. “We have to give credit to their defense, it’s a championship caliber team they have, and we made costly errors that created extra outs and allowed them to score.”
A leadoff walk began the second game, and first of a double-header, the skies opened up and the rain and lightning forced an hour long rain delay. CCSU starter Dave Krasnowiecki returned to the mound when play resumed, and though he got out of the first inning without any harm, the rest of the game was a different story.
Sacred Heart put up numbers in each of the next four innings to blow the game open. The Blue Devils trailed 11-0, when Sean Miller-Jones hit an RBI single to finally put CCSU on the board in the fourth. Despite trailing by 10, CCSU refused to pack it in. In the seventh and final inning the Blue Devils put up three runs on four hits. Though the team scraped until the final out, the lead proved to be insurmountable and CCSU lost game two.
“This team is playing the best out of anyone we played all year,” said Hickey. “We battled until the end and I‘m proud of the way we fought, but they were able to get out of it.”
Though Sacred Heart bats were quiet to end its 11-4 romp, the team lay dormant, waiting for the game to mean something again. The pioneers opened up the second game of the double header, with a barrage of hits, pushing three across the plate to give them an early lead.
Sacred Heart tacked on two more in the third to extend the lead to five, but the Blue Devils’ bats exploded in the fifth. Six runs on seven hits gave CCSU its first lead since it led 3-2 in game one. Epps doubled twice in the inning, and RBIs from Sportman, Anthony Turgeon, and Normand Gosselin helped CCSU erase the deficit.
The lead was short-lived as Sacred Heart picked up a two-out RBI in the sixth to knot the game up. The Pioneers came back in the seventh with two more to put them back on top. Sacred Heart pitcher Robbie Maguire struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh to close out the game, and secure a series victory for the Pioneers.
“It’s all part of the perfect storm to get swept,” said Hickey. “Every bunt play turned into an adventure for us and it shouldn’t be like that. All the little things we did wrong hurt us and the things they did wrong we didn’t take advantage of.”
Where the other three games turned into slugfests, game four was the pitcher’s duel. Both pitchers played well, only giving up two runs during their time on the mound.
CCSU scored its first two runs on sac flies from Andy Lalli. In the ninth, however, Blue Devils starter Harry Glynne quickly loaded the bases on the first three batters he faced. After going eight innings of one run baseball, Glynne was in danger of taking the loss, so Hickey went with closer Josh Ingham.
While Sacred Heart got a run in to tie it, Ingham did well considering the situation he was thrust into, and got out of the inning only allowing the one run. With CCSU unable to get a run across in the ninth, the game was sent into extra innings.
The Pioneers struck first in extra innings, picking up two runs in the 11th. CCSU had a chance to tie, after loading the bases in the bottom of the inning, but only one run reached home safely. For the fourth game, Sacred Heart prevailed over CCSU, and completed its sweep of the Blue Devils.
The reality is we ran into a good team playing great baseball,” said Hickey. “We’re at the point of the season where this is a stiff blow to the chin. We’re going to have to swallow our pride and regroup over the next week. We pushed this one hard and it wasn’t pretty, but when you load the bases in the bottom of the 11th I’ll take my chances of getting a hit every time.”
The Blue Devils started the weekend tied with Sacred Heart for third place in the NEC, but after dropping four straight, CCSU is now in fifth, while Sacred Heart moves into second. The Blue Devils have just four games left in the season, including Senior Day on Wednesday the 11th.