WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. –
The Monmouth University baseball team swept a doubleheader from in-state rival Rider on Saturday afternoon at the MU Baseball Field, winning the first game 13-5 and the second game 3-0. With the wins, MU improves to 18-20 and climbs to a game over .500 at 8-7 in the MAAC, while Rider drops to 13-28 and 5-10 in conference play.
Ricky Dennis (Warrington, Pa./Central Bucks South) picked up his first collegiate win in the first game, tossing five shutout innings in relief to pick up the victory in relief of Andrew McGee (Toms River, N.J./Toms River South), who allowed four runs, three earned on five hits through three plus. Dennis only allowed four base runners in his time, striking out a pair. Offensively, the Hawks posted 13 runs and 16 hits, including Grant Lamberton (Newark, Del./Salesianum)’s first career home run, a three-run blast in the first. Steve Wilgus (Woolwich, N.J./Gloucester Catholic), Danny Avella (Matawan, N.J./Christian Brothers Academy) and Robbie Alessandrine (Sewell, N.J./Gloucester Catholic) all had three hits for Monmouth. The Hawks scored in each of the first four innings of the first game.
The second game saw T.J. Hunt (Wyckoff, N.J./Ramapo) toss six shutout innings, allowing only four hits in evening his record on the season at 5-5. Stephen Frey (Washingtonville, N.Y./Washingtonville) picked up his third save with a scoreless ninth. Avella blasted his second home run of the season in the first, a two-run shot as MU scored the only three runs they would need in the first.
Monmouth’s offense started with a bang in Game One, hanging five runs on Rider in the first inning. Wilgus lined a triple that landed neatly inside the right field foul line on the warning track just shy of the wall. Jake Gronsky (Danville, Pa./Danville Area) took the first pitch the other way for an RBI single to right, and Craig Sweeney (Middletown, N.J./Middletown South) hit a rope to left center that went all the way to the wall, scoring Gronsky. Avella drew a walk, setting up Lamberton to send his first collegiate home run over the right field wall and capping off a five-run inning for Monmouth.
Alessandrine led off the second with a base hit, and moved down to second on a passed ball. After Joe Bamford (Washington, N.J./Northampton C.C./Warren Hills Regional) pushed a bunt up the third base side for a hit to move Alessandrine to third, Gronsky knocked in his second run of the game with an RBI ground out to third. The Broncs would respond in the top of the third with four of their own, plating the first run on a throwing error by Alessandrine. Justin Thomas singled in a pair, and Greg Fazio brought another run in with a double. Fazio took off for third during the next at-bat and a perfect throw from Kyle Perry (Toms River, N.J./Toms River South) got him to help MU through the frame.
The Blue and White wasted no time getting those runs back, stemming from Avella’s double off the right field wall. Jon Guida (Martinsville, N.J./Bridgewater Raritan) lined a double over the head of the center fielder, and Perry scored Avella with an RBI ground out. Alessandrine lined a run-scoring single back through the box, and following a Bamford single, Wilgus lined a base knock up the middle to plate Monmouth’s third run of the inning.
McGee allowed back-to-back runners to reach in the fourth before being relieved by Dennis, who promptly got a 6-4-3 double play ball off the bat of Brian Donnelly before getting a pop-up to end the threat. The MU defense turned three ground ball double plays behind Dennis in his five innings.
MU added two more in the fourth, loading the bases on two walks and a base hit before Perry lifted a sac fly to left center to bring in the first run. Alessandrine drove in another run with a single, and MU had a seven-run lead at 11-4. In the eighth, Monmouth tacked on two more after Sweeney was hit by a pitch and Avella planted a line drive just inside the chalk down the right field line to score him. Perry added another run on a sacrifice fly. The Broncs scored an unearned run in the ninth, and Monmouth won the opener 13-5.
In the second game, the Hawks put up all the runs they would need in the first inning. Wilgus was hit by a pitch and Gronsky hit a hard single through the left side. After a fly out moved Wilgus to third, he scored on a wild pitch. On the next pitch, Avella deposited his second home run of the year over the right field fence to put the Hawks up 3-0.
Hunt was solid all afternoon, retiring the first eight to face him and not allowing a hit until the fourth inning. He got into a bit of trouble in the fifth, allowing two men to reach before rolling up a double play ground ball. Rider loaded the bases in the sixth, but on his last pitch of the afternoon, Hunt struck out Jimmy Locklear swinging to end any trouble. Frey came on for the seventh and after surrendering a one out base runner, got a 4-6-3 double play to end the game and give Monmouth the doubleheader sweep.
The series wraps up tomorrow with a single nine-inning affair at the MU Baseball Field beginning at noon.