WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ- Monmouth Baseball swept the MAAC-opening series from Quinnipiac, scoring 21 runs in two games and pitching a shutout in the second contest to take all three from the Bobcats. MU compiled 38 runs on 36 hits in the three weekend games.
In the opener, Monmouth jumped out to a 9-0 lead thanks to a seven-run second inning. Freshman Johnny Zega (Lincroft, NJ/Middletown South) got things going with a double in the gap to score a run, and after a run was walked in, Shaine Hughes (Sewell, NJ/Washington Township) punched a two-run single through the middle. Dan Shea (Wilmington, DE/Salesianum) capped the inning by launching his team-leading fourth home run to right field, a three-run shot to make it 7-0.
A pair of underclassmen added to the lead in the third, with sophomore Clay Koniencki (Schwenksville, PA/Malvern Prep) dropping a run-scoring single into left before freshman Danny Long (Sellersville, PA/Pennridge) snuck a double inside the third base bag to score Koniencki.
Kyle Ajjan (Chester Springs, PA/Downingtown East) did not see trouble until the fifth, when he allowed a leadoff home run to Brian Moskey. A pair of errors against MU allowed Quinnipiac to score four times in the inning, in addition to three Bobcat hits to cut it to 9-4. Joe Molettiere (Sellersville, PA/Pennridge) came on and needed one pitch to end the fifth, and faced the minimum the rest of the way, including a double play to end the sixth.
In game two, the Hawks again jumped out to a big lead, scoring three in the first on Pete Papcun’s (Brick, NJ/Christian Brothers Academy) RBI double before Chris Gaetano (Madison Township, PA/Scranton Preparatory) homered to right, a two-run shot. That would be all sophomore Tyler Ksiazek (South Abington Township, PA/Abington Heights) would need on the mount, taking a no-hitter into the sixth and eventually allowing just two hits with eight strikeouts in seven shutout innings.
The Hawks added a run on a fielder’s choice to lead 4-0 after two. MU broke it open in the fourth, scoring four times propelled by Papcun’s two-run single. Leading 8-0, Tom Jakubowski (West Deptford, NJ/West Deptford/Long Island) singled in a run before Papcun let loose on a three-run home run to left that was well clear of the fence to make it 12-0.
NOTES AND QUOTES “It was an excellent sweep on the weekend. We got our bats going of course, but lost in everything was the good pitching we got. We got three outstanding starts from kids who have never started in the conference before. We groomed them to get to this point and it was very satisfying seeing them perform well in a relatively new role and a big spot.” – head coach Dean Ehehalt
“I thought our team competed great which is a big piece to the puzzle. Overall, an extremely good weekend and something positive to build on.” – Ehehalt on the weekend
-Monmouth totaled 38 runs on the weekend and notched 36 hits in three wins. -MU has now swept the MAAC opening series three times in four years in the league. -Pete Papcun drove in six runs for the first time since Cary Jacobson did it at Hofstra on 4/29/14. -Papcun had his second three-hit game in three games. -Ksiazek carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning. -Mike Brambilla and Brian Reiss added scoreless innings in relief. -No Bobcats recorded multiple hits in either game. -MU posts its first three-game winning streak of the season. -In its second doubleheader of the year, MU posted its first sweep. -The Hawks posted their first shutout of the season and first since a 1-0 shutout of Fairfield on 5/14/16.
NUMBERS CRUNCH -Joe Molettiere needed just 15 pitches to work 2.1 innings in the opener. -Kyle Ajjan made his first career start and earned his first win of the year, firing 4.1 innings and striking out four. -The Hawks outhit Quinnipiac 20-9 for the day. -Monmouth hit five home runs on the weekend, four from left handed hitters. -Freshman Johnny Zega was the only Hawk with multiple hits in the first game. -Shea now leads the team in home runs with four and RBI’s with 18. -Tyler Ksiazek struck out eight and allowed just two hits through seven scoreless innings with one walk.
UP NEXT -Monmouth plays a home-and-home with Rutgers this week, and will host the Scarlet Knights on Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. on ESPN3.