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CCSU Baseball Endures Successful Transition Season

By Tom Liljedahl

With four conference games left this season, the CCSU baseball team is in a familiar position, competing for a spot in the Northeastern Conference tournament.

After winning the NEC tournament last season, the Blue Devils viewed 2011 as a transition season. However, the team currently sits in fifth place in the conference with a 15-13 record, a mere half game behind Bryant University for the final spot in the NEC tournament. The tournament will take place May 19 and 20, at Thomas J. Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich, Conn., and the winner receives an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

“We lost nine important seniors from last year’s team, including infielder Sean Allaire, who was the Conference Player of the Year,” said head oach Charlie Hickey. “We had to replace a lot of good players, but we still had high expectations coming into the season.”

Other critical seniors from last year’s team included first baseman Tommy Meade, and outfielders Richie Tri and Kyle Zarotney, all of whom were three year starters. Despite the losses, Hickey had reason to be confident, as he has led the Blue Devils to the conference tournament nine times since coming here from Providence College twelve years ago.

“Coming into the season we had a lot of new guys such as freshman and transfer students, as well as a lot of guys who didn’t see the field due to older teammates, so in that sense it is a transition season,” said Mitch Wells. “Getting everyone used to how things are done here is always tricky, but that’s what the offseason is for. Come spring, I had just as much confidence in this team as I did last year’s team.”

Wells has led by example for the young team with a .371 batting average, 40 RBIs, and 30 runs scored. The pitching has also stepped up, with a pair of sophomores leading the way. Nick Newmann leads the team in strikeouts, with 50, and Todd Savatsky, who boasts a 3.00 ERA, each have five wins on the season.

“Last year we had a lot of veterans on the team with a lot of games under their belt. But this year we have a lot of new comers that were asked to step up and produce. Our goal remains the same: the NEC championship,” said Savatsky, who went from a red shirt to a conference starter this season.

Among the new comers are outfielder J.P. Sportman, infielder Dylan Delacruz, and outfielder Anthony Turgeon, all of whom start for the Blue Devils as freshmen. Turgeon is third on the team with a .327 batting average.

“We knew we were going to need contributions from new players this season,” said Hickey, “A lot of guys have really come on strong and gotten us going.”

Wells remains confident that this team will continue to be successful. “No one can be considered young at this point in the season, that’s just an excuse. I think we’re ready to battle this last weekend of conference play, make the tourney, and win it again.”

If the team hopes to defend the title, the Blue Devils must rebound from being swept in four games by Sacred Heart University this past weekend. The team plays host to Northeastern University at 3 p.m. on Wed., May 11, before travelling to Long Island this weekend for three critical NEC games.

Blue Devils Swept Away

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.

Sacred Heart Sweeps Saturday Doubleheader Against Blue Devils

By Chris McLaughlin

After an hour long rain delay, Sacred Heart took it to Blue Devil pitching and swept Saturday’s double header 11-4 and  8-6.

With one on and one out in the first inning of game one Saturday, the skies opened up and the rain and lightning forced a rain delay. When play resumed, the Blue Devils stuck with starter Dave Krasnowiecki.

While he showed no effects of the delay in the first, Sacred Heart got to him in the second. The Pioneers picked up three in the second. Two more crossed the plate in the third for Sacred Heart while the Blue Devils bats remained quiet.

Steve Tedesco and Rob Griffith took Krasnowiecki deep in the fourth, bringing the lead to 7-0 and chasing Krasnowiecki from the game. The Blue Devils finally got on the board in the fourth when JP Sportman picked up the first hit of the game for CCSU.

The struggles for Blue Devil pitching continued as a bases loaded walk was followed up by a bases clearing triple to break the game open. Though there was a 10-run deficit, the Blue Devils didn’t go down quietly. In the seventh and final inning, the Blue Devils scrapped for three runs on four hits, showing signs of life going into game two.

Sacred Heart opened up the second game with a barrage of hits, collecting three runs in the process. Miscues in the field continued to trouble the Blue Devils in the third, as two sacrifice bunts turned into base hits when CCSU, leading to two more runs.

Sacred Heart starter Cody Kerski was in control for much of the game, but things completely unraveled in the fifth.  Three straight hits followed by a sacrifice fly brought in two runs. A two-run single by Anthony Turgeon brought in two more to tie the game and drove Kerski from the game. The inning was capped off by a Pat Epps RBI double to give the team its first lead of the afternoon.

The lead wouldn’t last long, as Sacred Heart tied the game in the top of the sixth. Sacred Heart then came out in the seventh and picked up two more runs. Down two in the final inning, the Blue Devils were unable to rally, and the double header ended in defeat for CCSU.

The Blue Devils also lost the series opener on Friday.

Saturday Starters Key in Sweep at Quinnipiac

Complete Games Highlight First Conference Series Sweep Since 2009

By Kenny Barto

Dave Krasnowiecki pitched a complete game on Saturday to help the Blue Devils sweep Quinnipiac. Photo: Kenny Barto.

This weekend, the CCSU baseball team came away with four huge road victories against conference foe and in-state rival Quinnipiac. It was the Blue Devils’ first Northeast Conference series sweep in over two seasons, the last coming in 2009 at Long Island.

Even though the series covered three days, Friday through Sunday, the story mostly rested on two pitchers’ performances in the doubleheader on Saturday. Dave Krasnowiecki and Nick Neumann both turned in their second straight complete games, which were instrumental in CCSU getting the weekend sweep. For Krasnowiecki, it was his third shutout in four starts.

“It reminds me of some days when we had Barry Hertzler and Louie Pappariella running out there on Saturdays,” said CCSU Head Coach Charlie Hickey. “It’s a nice way to play, and it pays dividends when you can play five to one or six to one baseball.”

The first game of the series on Friday saw a blowout that inflated the scoreboard to a football-esque score of 26-3. The Blue Devils were led by key offensive efforts by Mitch Wells (5-for-7, 4 RBI), Pat Epps (4-for-7, 5 RBI, HR) and Sean Miller-Jones (3-for-6, 6 RBI, HR).

“Everyone was on base [on Friday],” Hickey said. “We just went out there and had a really good game offensively and were able to keep their offense in check.”

Mitch Wells (right) celebrates with teammates. Wells had four RBIs in Friday;s 26-3 rout of the Bobcats. Photo: Kenny Barto.

The big win gave both Krasnowiecki and Neumann the momentum and confidence to take the mound and hand in impressive performances on Saturday. Krasnowiecki started off strong by striking out three batters in the first. However, as the case has been all season, he struggled a bit with his command and walked one batter who eventually made it to third after a throwing error on a stolen base attempt, but couldn’t score.

Krasnowiecki didn’t run into any more trouble until the fourth inning, where a leadoff single and another walk put runners on first and second. Quinnipiac used some small ball tactics and advanced both runners to second and third with a sacrifice bunt. With just one out, Krasnowiecki made some key pitches and ended the inning with a strikeout and ground out.

Other than the fourth inning, Krasnowiecki did a great job of scattering his baserunners. He allowed one hit in the fifth, one walk in the sixth and worked a one, two, three seventh to secure yet another shutout. He accumulated only three hits, walked three and struck out six to improve to 4-3 on the season with a 3.02 ERA. Over his last four starts, he has an ERA of just 0.66 (two runs in 27 innings) and has held the opposition to a .157 batting average (14 for 89).

“I had no idea it was that low,” Krasnowiecki said. “I always go back after the fact and look at anything, but that’s definitely surprising, and it makes me feel great about how I’ve done so far.”

On Saturdays, Krasnowiecki shares the mound with another outstanding pitcher in Neumann, who continued his success by starting game two of Saturday’s doubleheader with 4 2/3 innings of perfection.

Neumann simply cruised through the Quinnipiac lineup until the Bobcats got back-to-back hits in the fifth, but was able to ease his way out of trouble with the help of a double play. With no outs in the seventh and a runner on first, Neumann was hit in the foot by a line drive, but it was deflected right to Wells at third base, who was able to quickly get it to first for out number one. Neumann’s tempo seemed to be interrupted, as he gave up one more hit that allowed the first and only run to score for Qunnipiac.

Neumann’s final line stood at seven innings, five hits, one run, no walks and five strikeouts in a seven inning game that took just an hour and 16 minutes.

“I thought all-in-all it was pretty good out there today,” Neumann said. “They were getting themselves out today and in the beginning it was four pitches, four fly balls, so it made it a little bit easier.”

Neumann leads the Blue Devils in ERA (with a minimum of three appearances) at 2.09. He has walked just nine batters in 56 innings.

“It’s like a competition to see who can do better every weekend,” Krasnowiecki said. “I think he fell off a little, couldn’t finish it off in the seventh inning, but it was a good day out there all around.”

Neumann feels the same way about his teammate that starts ahead of him on Saturdays.

“I definitely feed off of him, he’s a hard worker,” Neumann said. “And it helps out our bullpen a lot to be able to come out and throw complete games.”

For Hickey, he embraces the added team chemistry on a day that is supposed to be the toughest of the series.

“It gives you a good feeling when you’re going to play a series that you play four games,” Hickey said. “We haven’t been here in a while, so I trust that we’ll find even better pitching from now on.”

With the Blue Devils going into Sunday for the chance at a sweep, Harry Glynne took the mound for his second straight start in the number four slot of CCSU’s weekend rotation. Glynne turned in an impressive performance, going seven innings, giving up four hits and one earned run while striking out five and not giving up a single walk. Nick Boyd took the ball in the eighth with a 5-1 lead, and gave up four earned runs to the Bobcats. The 5-5 tie continued for four more innings, largely because of good relief pitching from both sides. Josh Ingham pitched 4 2/3 innings of shutout baseball, giving up five hits and struck out eight.

“We saw Josh Ingham come in and get some outs against a team that could taste winning,” Hickey said. “He threw strikes and made the big pitches, and did really well out there.”

With two outs in the 12th inning, Miller-Jones came through with his 10th hit and 11th RBI of the series with a huge home run to left field.

“That felt good,” Miller-Jones said. “As a group we wanted that sweep, and to get the winning run was just felt really good.”

The Blue Devils added a second run from Danny Hickey hitting an RBI single after Tyler Caserta and Normand Gosselin got on base. Josh Ingham worked a scoreless bottom half, completing CCSU’s sweep of Quinnipiac.

“You don’t get caught up with all that stuff,” Hickey said. “It was just an opportunity to come out and take advantage of a team that had been struggling and to put us in a better position as the season winds down.”

The Blue Devils will play their second to last out of conference game at Boston College on Wednesday and will face Sacred Heart over the weekend, who is tied with the Blue Devils for third place in the conference at 15-9.

Springer’s Two Home Runs Highlight Eight-Run UConn Comeback Over CCSU

By Kenny Barto

In a game that seemed to have the atmosphere of an NCAA tournament game, the Connecticut Huskies were able to come back from an eight-run deficit on the road to beat the Blue Devils 16-14.

“That’s some entertainment at the ballpark for you,” CCSU Head Coach Charlie Hickey said. “It’s a fun game to play in, they’re a very good baseball team and we came out and put ourselves into a position to win, but it didn’t work out in the end.”

CCSU’s offense came alive early when Jake Matuszak and Dylan Delacruz led off the game with back-to-back singles. Both runners advanced on a Mitch Wells fly-out, and Matuszak scored when Pat Epps hit a deep foul-out to left field. UConn answered in the second inning with a two-run single through the left side.

The Blue Devils kept battling, however, and were able to score three runs in the third. With one out, Wells singled to left field and was quickly driven in by Epps on a double down the left field line. Anthony Turgeon drove in the other two runs in the inning with a single through the right side, but one of the runs was unearned due to a throwing error by the right fielder.

The fourth inning was another good one for CCSU, netting four runs. Josh Ingham reached on an error by the third baseman to lead off the inning. Matuszak drove Ingham in on a triple to left center, followed by a Delacruz line drive home run to left field. Sean Miller-Jones would drive in the final run, but was thrown out at second trying to stretch his single into a double.

UConn answered with a run in the fifth, but CCSU added another three runs in their half. With two runners on, Matuszak would get another RBI on a single to left field. Delacruz followed by hitting a hard line drive to UConn center fielder and New Britain native George Springer. Springer couldn’t handle the ball and it went off of his glove, which scored Andy Lalli. The final run came on a fielder’s choice, with Wells getting the RBI.

UConn began their comeback in the sixth inning, putting up a five spot against the Blue Devils. Springer would impress his hometown crowd by hitting a bomb into the trees in right center field. The Blue Devils tried to keep up in their half of the sixth with three runs led by a two-run double by Lalli. Matuszak got his third RBI of the game when he reached on a fielder’s choice, but that would be it for the CCSU offense.

Springer would show off his potential first-round draft pick skills by hitting another three-run home run in the seventh. After that, UConn would add five more runs to put the final score at 16-14.

“In a game like this, it just proved to us that we didn’t have the pitching to matchup against them,” Hickey said. “But, this was also a mid-week out of conference game, so our focus now shifts to Friday at Quinnipiac.”

The final numbers for the game were staggering. Thirty total runs, 34 hits and seven errors on ten total pitchers, five for each team. CCSU’s starter, Roy Natoli, seemed to pitch with a lot of confidence, but his relievers could not pick him up. Nate Sturgis gave up three earned runs, plus two more that were charged to Natoli. Jason Foster followed by giving up four runs, one of which was earned, followed by Nick Boyd and Ingham giving up three runs and one run respectively.

Even though the score was high, the first few innings were back and forth, which entertained the crowd of over 200 that showed up. Both teams were against the fence the entire game, and both teams wanted the win even though the game essentially meant nothing in the standings.

“Whenever you play a game like that against a program like that, it’s only going to make your team better,” Hickey said. “We got a lot of young guys out there to play against some good competition, so it really helped us a lot.”

The Blue Devil baseball team was CCSU’s only sport to play against a UConn this season, excluding club teams.

They will hit the road Friday through Sunday for a four-game Northeast Conference series against Quinnipiac.

Former CCSU Pitcher Makes Big League Debut

By Kenny Barto

The Blue Devils have an alumni playing in the major leagues for the first time since Ricky Bottalico last pitched in 2005 for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Former CCSU pitcher Evan Scribner made his major league debut Tuesday night for the San Diego Padres, allowing two hits and one walk over two scoreless innings as the Atlanta Braves defeated the Padres 8-2.

Scribner began the season with the Tucson Sidewinders, his first stint in Triple-A. Scribner was 0-1 with a 5.62 ERA and had three saves in four opportunities with the team. However, Scribner’s highest ERA at any level was in 2009 with Double-A San Antonio, where he went 8-4 with a 3.07 ERA.

Scribner has primarily filled the role of closer in the minor leagues. He was drafted in 2007 in the 28th round by the Diamondbacks, and was considered to be a gem of the draft by how late he fell. He was traded to the Padres on July 18th, 2008 for slugger Tony Clark.

Scribner saw action with the big league club in spring training, working four scoreless outings in March before being optioned to the Triple-A club on March 11th. Although Scribner has struggled with Tucson this year, he could become an integral part of the Padres’ bullpen as the season goes on.

Scribner sports a fastball at 90-94 mph, followed by a curveball that is known to have a 20 mph difference that has been fooling batters in the minor leagues.

He is only the third CCSU alum to make it to the major leagues. Bottalico, and Skip Jutze are the only other two Blue Devils to make it that far.

Blue Devils Can’t Take Advantage Against Last Place FDU

By Kenny Barto and Chris McLaughlin

Shortstop Anthony Turgeon catches a pick-off from catcher Andy Lalli in Saturday's action against FDU. Photo: Kenny Barto.

The Blue Devils were unable to take advantage on home turf against last place Farleigh Dickinson, a visit that resulted in a split series.

With the top four teams making the NEC tournament, it was a chance for the fourth place Blue Devils to put more wins on the board against the then 6-26 (3-13 NEC) Knights.

“This is where we needed to pile up some wins,” said head coach Charlie Hickey. “But we came out with a split, which wasn’t optimal, but they came out with some guys that got hits, pitchers who threw strikes, and they just played good baseball.”

The Blue Devils dropped game one of the series 7-5 on Thursday. Though starting pitcher Todd Savatsky gave up six runs, only three were earned, as costly errors allowed FDU to score. Savatsky pitched into the eighth inning, giving the Blue Devils an opportunity to save its pitchers for the rest of the series.

“Todd [Savatsky] had great command, even with the 25 mph wind, he did enough to give us the opportunity to win, but if you play enough of these games they will go either way,” Hickey said.

Fairleigh Dickinson struck first with an RBI single in the opening inning before Mitch Wells tied it up in the bottom half. The Knights picked up three more in the third inning off Savatsky, but only one run was earned. Once again the Blue Devils were there to match in the bottom of the inning when Pat Epps hit a two-run RBI double and Sean Miller-Jones drove him in on a sac fly. FDU pushed two more across in the fourth, when the wind turned a routine fly ball into a two-run single.

With the lead in hand, FDU was able to maintain it the remainder of the game. The Blue Devils were able to cut the lead to one in the fifth with a leadoff triple from Jake Matuszak that turned into a run because of a throwing error from the cut-off man.

CCSU had another opportunity in the seventh, but FDU left fielder Joe Martino threw consecutive runners out at home plate, preventing the Blue Devils from tying. The Knights tacked on one more in the ninth and though the Blue Devils got a man on base, a double play ended the game.

The Blue Devils went into Friday’s doubleheader needing to put up two wins, and the two aces, Dave Krasnowiecki and Nick Neumann, earned victories for CCSU.

In game one, Krasnowiecki went the distance and allowed just one hit, although he surrendered six base runners on four walks and a hit by pitch. His performance earned him the NEC co-pitcher of the week. Nuemann followed suit with his own complete game, but gave up three runs on six hits while striking out seven.

“You know, I really do get on them all week to make sure there prepared for their one day to pitch,” said Hickey. “But, I really can’t complain today, Neumann got out of trouble early, and ran into some trouble late, but both him and [Krasnowiecki] were great today.”

In game one, CCSU’s only offense was a Matuszak sacrifice fly and a Miller-Jones RBI double that scored Epps. After Krasnowiecki’s performance, the score stood at just 2-0.

Game two saw much more offense, although CCSU was down 1-0 until the fourth, the final score read 7-3 in favor of the Blue Devils. Dylan Delacruz led off with a triple, followed by a Wells RBI double to left center. Wells would advance to third on an Epps fly out, and was then driven in on a Miller-Jones sacrifice fly.

CCSU followed with five runs in the fifth, led off by Anthony Turgeon doubling to left field, one of his three hits in the game, and was promptly driven in by Tyler McIntyre in the next at-bat. Matuszak advanced the runners to second and third with a sacrifice bunt after Andy Lalli singled. Delacruz followed with another sacrifice fly for the Blue Devils, which led to Wells earning a base on balls. Epps would drive in the final two runs of the game with a line drive double to right center field, one of his three hits that went the other way in the doubleheader.

“I think it was last week that I saw him get a hit the other way,” said Hickey. “I made it a point to coach [Paul] LaBella to try to work with him this week on going the other way, and it ended up working out.”

Game two wouldn’t be so kind to the Blue Devils, as the team blew a five-run lead that they had going into the fifth inning. Coach Hickey started his best bullpen arm, Harry Glynne, in place of the struggling starter Tom Coughlin. Glynne was perfect through four, but gave up a hit in the fifth.

FDU made it 5-1 after the fifth, but put up a seven spot on the scoreboard in the sixth. Hickey made a tough decision to keep Glynne in the game and he ended up facing five batters in the sixth, giving up four hits, and was tagged with three earned runs in the inning. The Knights added three more in the eighth off of Josh Ingham to give them the 11-6 lead.

CCSU saw a huge offensive performance from catcher Lalli, who went 4-for-4 with three RBI’s.

“That was surprising to say the least,” said Hickey. “If you told me yesterday Andy Lalli was going to go 4-for-4 today, I wouldn’t have believed you, but he really came through today and did a great job seeing the ball at the plate.”

The Blue Devils will stay in fourth place in the Northeast Conference. The Blue Devils will host UConn, who has two potential first round draft picks, including New Britain native George Springer. CCSU will return to conference action at Quinnipiac next weekend.

Former Shortstop Gets Call From Independent Wild Things

By Kenny Barto

Sean Allaire. Photo: Kenny Barto.

First team all-conference, first team all-New England, first team all-Eastern College Athletic Conference, Louisville Slugger third-team all-American and American Baseball Coaches Association third-team all-American. These are just some of the accolades that former CCSU shortstop Sean Allaire has earned.

Allaire finished his last year of eligibility in 2010 with style. He led the team in batting average (.426), hits (100), doubles (22), triples (6), RBI’s (tied at 73 with Pat Epps), total bases (173) and stolen bases (10). Despite his standout season that drew the attention of many teams, Allaire was missed in the MLB draft in June.

“I was actually laying in bed the two days the draft was on the Internet,” Allaire said while attending CCSU’s matchup against Stony Brook. “I was really excited, the Red Sox called me the night before the draft and said they might be interested, but I guess it didn’t work out.”

After the draft, Allaire shifted his focus to coaching. A native of Bristol, Conn., Allaire coached in his hometown for Bristol Collegiate, a member of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, a summer wood bat league that hosts college players from around the country. Bristol’s head coach, Pat Hall, is CCSU’s assistant coach/pitching coach.

“I was able to coach over in Bristol with Coach Hall,” Allaire said. “It was a great experience and I really noticed that I have a passion for coaching and it might be something I can definitely do in the future.”

CCSU head coach Charlie Hickey noticed Allaire’s frustrations, but also knew that he shouldn’t quit baseball.

“I know Sean was definitely disappointed at not being drafted,” Hickey said. “But I know he is a great player and there’s always been no doubt he can play at the next level.”

As it turns out, there was someone who wanted Allaire to keep playing. The call came from the Washington Wild Things, an independent baseball team with the Frontier league out of Washington, Penn., about 32 miles southwest of Pittsburgh.

“I thought I was never going to play baseball again,” Allaire said. “But they contacted Coach Hickey and he contacted me and I decided I wanted to play again.”

As it turns out, the Wild Things weren’t the only offer that Allaire had received, as he actually rejected an offer earlier in the winter from another independent league team and member of the Canadian-American League just a couple hours away from Bristol.

“The Worcester Tornadoes called me and wanted me to make a decision in an hour,” Allaire said. “I told them I wasn’t going to play again, but after that Coach Hickey strived to get me to play again.”

The Wild Things begin play on May 12th and Sean Allaire will begin play with wood bats for the first time since he played with the Saratoga Phillies of the New York Collegiate Baseball League in the summer of 2009, where he led the team in games played (38), runs scored (24) and stolen bases (11).

“I actually like wood better,” Allaire said. “I think that’s what made me so successful with metal, after being able to hit with wood in the summer, I just think it made me a better hitter.”

As CCSU’s own season continues, there’s no doubt that Sean Allaire’s role is missed on a team that won the Northeast Conference in 2010.

“He’s obviously still close with a lot of guys on the team and he’s been around hitting in the cages lately,” said coach Hickey. “But when you have a player that goes out and makes a team like that, it’s definitely good for the program and it looks good all around.”

Although it remains uncertain of what Allaire’s exact role will be with the Wild Things, it looks like Allaire will play infield and hopefully show teams at the next level what he has to offer.

“I definitely missed being out there every day,” Allaire said. “I just can’t wait to get back out there and play baseball again.”

Other Blue Devils that have made the pro’s are Evan Scribner (2007), who was drafted by Diamondbacks and now plays for San Diego’s Triple-A team, Robert Hosgood (2004) and Barry Hertzler. Skip Jutze (1968) and Ricky Botallico (1991) are are the only CCSU alums to play in the major leagues.

UMass Holds off Blue Devils, CCSU Drops Second in a Row

By Chris McLaughlin

The CCSU baseball team got off to a rough start and was never able to recover, falling to UMass 8-3.

The Blue Devils (17-14-1) trailed 6-0 after the first three innings and despite Pat Epps two-run homerun, CCSU hardly threatened.

UMass (12-17) starter Ben Hart went eight strong, stifling Blue Devils batters on a cold rainy afternoon. The Blue Devils were out-hit 14-6, getting very little from its own pitching. While Nate Sturgis pitched well for three innings, the bulk of the damage was done off the first two pitchers. CCSU was able to get one back in the eighth, cutting the lead to three, but the Minutemen tacked on two more in the ninth. After a seven game win-streak, the Blue Devils have now dropped back to back games.

“We didn’t execute,” said Head Coach Charlie Hickey. “We tried to piece-mail this enough to give ourselves an opportunity, but then they got two more in the ninth.”

UMass hit two doubles in the first for one run, giving them the lead right from the start. The two runs UMass picked up in the second drove Blue Devil starter Donny Crook from the game. Crook’s replacement, Jason Foster, didn’t fare much better, allowing three more in the third. Crook and Foster gave up a combined six hits in the three innings they pitched.

“Crook and Foster didn’t do what there supposed to do,” said Hickey. “The conditions were tough, but this is what we play in. They have to be better.”

While CCSU struggled with its pitching, UMass did not. Hart cruised through the first three innings, giving up only one ht. Though the Blue Devils trailed big, the team showed signs of life in the fourth. After a lead-off walk to Mitch Wells, Epps turned on one, cranking it over the left field wall. J.P. Sportman followed up with a single, but a pop-out and then a double play ended CCSU’s rally.

“We didn’t execute. Epps had that one shot but that was it,” said Hickey. “We still have a lot of holes so we have to continue to evolve and develop”

The Minutemen were able to get to Blue Devil pitching early, but Sturgis came in and shut them down. Sturgis put in three innings of work, struck out four and didn’t allow a run. Though CCSU lost, Sturgis kept the game within reason.

“Sturgis really pitched well and we wonder why we didn’t have him in earlier.” said Hickey.

With the game at a standstill for three innings, the Blue Devils had an opportunity to close the gap in the eighth.

A Dylan Delacruz double put runners on second and third with only one out. A fielders choice got one run across, but also counted for the second out. Now with only one runner on base and two out, a pop out ended the inning.

Though the Blue Devils were able to build some momentum, UMass was able to pad its lead in the ninth. A bases loaded walk and a sac fly gave the Minutemen two more runs and helped put the game out of reach. The Blue Devils didn’t go down quietly in the bottom of the inning, picking up two hits, but the most noise made was on a foul ball that shattered the rear window of Hickey’s car.

“It’s a concern the way our offense has been lately,” said Hickey. “We are not built on hitting that three-run homerun, so we have to find a way to get more balls in play. Tomorrow is going to be one of the most important days for us, we’re going to have to prepare for this upcoming stretch of conference play.”

After six non-conference games, the Blue Devils begin a three game series against Fairleigh Dickinson on Thursday. CCSU is in a three-way tie for third place in the conference and a series against the last place team should help them distance themselves.

Seven Game Win Streak Snapped by Stags

By Kenny Barto

Going into Sunday’s action against Fairfield, the Blue Devils boasted a seven-game winning streak, including two wins against the Stags in the two days prior.

“It’s nice to get a streak like that, but some of it had to do with the format,” head coach Charlie Hickey said. “We were only playing one game a day, and we didn’t have to regroup for a doubleheader, so it was a little easier on us.”

With a 16-2 win and 5-4 win against Holy Cross and Stony Brook respectively, the Blue Devils traveled down to Fairfield on Friday and put their ace, Dave Krasnowiecki on the mound.  The lefty battled through six innings, giving up two runs, seven hits, and seven strikeouts. Krasnowiecki was taken out with Fairfield leading 2-0, but the Blue Devil offense finally came alive in the seventh.

JP Sportman reached on a walk, followed by Dylan Delacruz single through the left side. Tyler Caserta had a sacrifice bunt, which set up A.J. lowers to hit a sacrifice fly to bring in the Blue Devils’ first run of the game.

The 2-1 lead would hold up until the ninth, when Sean Miller-Jones homered to left field. Back-to-back strikeouts by JP Sportman and Dylan Delacruz gave way to Caserta working a walk. With AJ Lowers at the plate, Caserta stole second, followed by another walk to Lowers. Caserta’s awareness on the base paths yet again, as he stole second, which also advanced Lowers to second. Jake Matuszak came through in a huge spot, and drove both runners in with an RBI single. Josh Ingham would throw a scoreless ninth for his fourth save of the year.

In game two, Nick Neumann and Harry Glynne combined for a nine hit shutout. Neumann went only five innings, giving up five hits, and struck out seven. Glynne went four, giving up four hits, and struck out five.

“It was a tough day to pitch out there on Saturday,” said Hickey. “It was a chilly, windy day, and Neumann couldn’t go as far as we wanted him to, but we got lucky that both Nick and Harry were able to make some good pitches and shut them down.”

CCSU only had five hits on the day to net three runs. Anthony Turgeon homered in the third inning, while Mitch Wells had an RBI double, and Miller-Jones had an RBI single.

Fairfield returned the favor on Sunday, however, as another windy and chilly day troubled the CCSU offense. Fairfield’s offense started off quick against Tom Coughlin, as four doubles in the first inning netted four runs for the Stags. Fairfield’s Scott Gussaroff, a graduate student, tossed eight innings of scoreless baseball, giving up only six hits and struck out six.

“He just came out strong and straight up beat us today,” said Hickey. “He definitely stayed in longer than we thought we would, and we just couldn’t get anything going today.”

Roy Natoli came in after only two outs in the first. Natoli threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings while giving up only two hits and striking out three. Jason Foster, Donny Crook, and Normand Gosselin all contributed to 8 1/3 innings of relief that only yielded one more run for the Stags.

“We’re doing good things out there, but we have to get better,” said Hickey. “Even though we get shut out, it gives us things to work on. You think you have everything figured out, then things like this happen.”

Tom Coughlin’s inconsistency on the mound may lead to a change in the fourth starter. Roy Natoli’s impressive showing in relief may make him a top contender for the spot.

“That’s definitely something we need to look at,” said Hickey. “Although sometimes it’s easy to pitch when you’re down four runs, he still went in and pitched a great game.”

The Blue Devils will continue their out of conference schedule against UMass on Tuesday, and will enter conference play again on Fairleigh Dickinson that will take place starting Thursday at 3 P.M. due to the holiday on Sunday.