WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. –
Robbie Alessandrine (Sewell, N.J./Gloucester Catholic) lined a walk-off single to right in the bottom of the 11th
to give the Monmouth University baseball team it’s eighth win in a row, sweeping Rider on the weekend. The Hawks got a stellar relief appearance from Stephen Frey (Washingtonville, N.Y./Washingtonville), who tossed three scoreless to earn his first win of the year. MU improves to 19-20, 9-7 in MAAC play while Rider falls to 13-29, 5-11 in conference.
“I thought our guys came really ready to play,” said Head Coach Dean Ehehalt. “We’ve been playing very well, we’ve been relaxing, and we’ve had great practice leading in.”
Frey tossed three shutout innings, allowing just two hits to pick up the win for Monmouth, and Alessandrine capped it off with his game-winning single. Chris McKenna (Pine Beach, N.J./Toms River South) started for MU and threw six innings, allowing just one run on four hits, fanning six. Jake Gronsky (Danville, Pa./Danville Area) had a four-hit day, going 4-for-5 on the afternoon, and Jon Guida (Martinsville, N.J./Bridgewater Raritan) added a pair of hits for the Blue and White.
In the 11th, Grant Lamberton (Newark, Del./Salesianum) worked out a walk leading off, and Guida dropped down a bunt in front of the plate that Rider pitcher Vincenzo Aiello went to second with. The throw was high, and Lamberton slid in safely. After Kyle Perry (Toms River, N.J./Toms River South) bunted the runners to second and third, Alessandrine lined the 0-2 offering over the head of second baseman Greg Fazio to plate Lamberton and give the Hawks a three-game sweep of the Broncs.
Rider jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first when Nick Richter singled and stole second and third before scoring on a wide throw from Perry at third. The Hawks answered quickly and scored a run in each of the first three innings, scoring in the first when Craig Sweeney (Middletown, N.J./Middletown South) hit one hard back up the middle that was stopped by Rider starter Kurt Sowa. He threw Sweeney out but MU had tied the game at one.
In the second, Lamberton placed a double just inside the left field line, and Guida lined a single the other way to follow. Lamberton scored on a double play ground out, but the Hawks took the 2-1 advantage. In the third, MU loaded the bases on the strength of two singles and a walk, and Lamberton lofted a fly ball to right. Gronsky broke for the plate and slid in ahead of the throw to put the Hawks up 3-1.
Both teams would stay quiet offensively until the seventh, when the Hawks added another run. Perry walked, and Alessandrine bunted him over. He moved to third on a ground out, and scored when Steve Wilgus (Woolwich, N.J./Gloucester Catholic) beat out a ground ball to second. Rider would bounce back to put up three in the eighth to tie the game. Richter, Mike Parsons and Justin Thomas put together three straight singles to load the bases. MU was able to turn a 6-4-3 double play to get two big outs with just one run crossing, but Jimmy Locklear singled in a run and after a walk, Giovanni Gussen singled through the right side to tie the game.
Neither team would score in the ninth or tenth ahead of Alessandrine’s game-winner in the 11th. Monmouth has now won eight consecutive games, and moves to 2-1 in extra-inning games this season.
“Our turnaround has been a complete team effort,” said Ehehalt. “Our older guys have bought in to making sacrifices that are necessary to win games like this.”
Monmouth returns to action next Saturday when Iona visits West Long Branch for the start of a three-game set. First pitch for Saturday’s doubleheader is set for noon at the MU Baseball Field.