WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – The Monmouth offense scored six runs in the first inning, and junior right hander Chris McKenna (Pine Beach, N.J./Toms River South) fired six shutout innings as the MU baseball team completed a weekend sweep of Iona with a 6-0 victory on Sunday afternoon at MU Baseball Field. Kyle Perry (Toms River, N.J./Toms River South) had a pair of hits, a run and an RBI and Danny Avella drove in two as the Hawks improved to 22-20, 12-7 in the MAAC. Iona fell to 11-30, 7-14 in conference. Monmouth has now won 11 consecutive games.
McKenna went six strong innings, allowing six hits and one walk while striking out seven. Ricky Dennis (Warrington, Pa./Central Bucks South) and Jeff Paglione (Mantua, N.J./Gloucester Catholic) combined to keep Iona off the scoreboard in the final three innings, with Paglione tossing a scoreless ninth. McKenna improves his record to 4-3 on the year. His counterpart, Iona starter Bill Maier, went 4.2 innings and drops his record to 2-7, allowing six runs, all unearned, on five hits. Joe Torres had a two-hit afternoon for the Gaels.
Monmouth scored six unearned runs in the first inning, and that would be enough. Iona second baseman Tyler Bruno threw wide of first, allowing Joe Bamford (Washington, N.J./Northampton C.C./Warren Hills Regional) to reach, and when Steve Wilgus (Woolwich, N.J./Gloucester Catholic) laid down a sacrifice bunt to follow, catcher Alex Beckett sailed the throw into center field, putting runners at second and third with nobody out. Two batters later, Craig Sweeney (Middletown, N.J./Middletown South) was hit by a pitch to fill the bases with one away. Danny Avella (Matawan, N.J./Christian Brothers Academy) punched one through the left side to score two, and two batters after that, Jon Guida (Martinsville, N.J./Bridgewater Raritan) lined an RBI single up the middle to give MU a 3-0 lead. Perry followed with a hard hit ball down the third base line that was just beyond the reach of third baseman Bobby Vitulano, scoring another run. Robbie Alessandrine (Sewell, N.J./Gloucester Catholic) laced a single to right, scoring Guida. On the throw home from right fielder Joe Smith, the ball shot under the legs of Beckett and went to the backstop. Perry hustled around and dove in safely to make it a six-run opening inning for Monmouth. Iona made three errors in the stanza, and MU had taken an early 6-0 lead.
That was all the cushion McKenna needed, striking out two in the second. In the third, Iona put runners on the corners with one out. McKenna got Beckett to strike out looking, and Perry threw out Jimmy Guiliano trying to steal second for an inning-ending double play. The junior right hander needed just six pitches for a 1-2-3 fourth, and got a 3-6-3 double play in his final inning after a nice pickup by Avella at first and a good play from the first baseman to scoop the return throw.
Dennis allowed three base runners but did not allow Iona to score in the seventh and eighth, and Paglione used eight pitches in the ninth to seal the win.
MU returns to action Thursday for a doubleheader at Canisius in the final regular season weekend of 2014. First pitch from Buffalo, N.Y. is set for noon.