NU drops two of three games to Monmouth

Hawks upset Niagara in New Jersey

The Niagara University Purple Eagles baseball team lost two of three games to the Monmouth Hawks on April 22 and 23. Playing at West Long Branch, N.J., Niagara fell in Saturday’s lone contest 8-6, before splitting two games on Sunday, including being walked-off in the later game in 11 innings.

In game one, Monmouth scored twice in both the bottom of the first and bottom of the second innings against Niagara starter Nate Mascellino. Leftfielder Dan Shea tripled in the first frame, with he and Grant Lamberton both scoring on an error by shortstop Greg Cullen. Pete Papcun drove in two runs in the second to make it 4-0 Monmouth. In the bottom of the third, Tom Jakubowski scored on a fielding error by second baseman Geoff Seto, the second of four Niagara errors on the day.

Niagara scored twice in the top of the fifth, forcing starter Jordan McCrum from the game. Tanner Kirwer and Cullen each picked up RBI in the inning. McCrum ended his outing with 4.2 innings pitched and ten strikeouts, but he allowed six walks in a no-decision.

A four-run top of the sixth for Niagara’s lineup made it a 6-6 contest. The inning included RBI from Kirwer and Peter Battaglia, with two errors coming from the Hawks’ defense. Monmouth took a 7-6 lead in the bottom of the sixth, as Danny Long crossed the plate on a throwing error by Cullen. They added another run in the bottom of the eighth, with Shaine Hughes flying out to centerfield and scoring Long with a sacrifice fly.

Ben Hoffman pitched 3.1 innings out of the Monmouth bullpen to earn his third win of 2017, striking out five. Mascellino was tagged with his fourth loss, allowing seven runs and four earned in 5.0 innings.

Niagara then defeated the Hawks in the first game on Sunday, 6-4. Daniel Procopio pitched 5.o innings and struck out seven to improve to 5-2 on the mound, while Peter Battaglia drove in a pair of runs, with additional RBI coming from Darian Blanks and Trevor McCauley.

Monmouth jumped to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second, as Tom Jakubowski stole home and scored on a fielding error by Cullen at shortstop. In the top of the third, Peter Battaglia walked with the bases loaded to force in Darian Blanks, and Trevor McCauley plated Tanner Kirwer with a sac-fly to make it 2-1 Niagara.

Monmouth tied the game in the bottom of the inning, before Niagara added four runs of offense in the fourth. Wyatt Olson scored on a wild pitch, Blanks drove in Michael Gabriele with a double, and Blanks scored on error. A two-run homer by Jakubowski in the bottom of the fifth was not enough for Monmouth to battle back, as Alex MacKinnon earned his first save of the year by earning the last two outs of the seven inning game.

The final game on Sunday did not go as well for Niagara, as the club was walked off in extra innings, literally. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th, Dan Shea earned a walk to score Aidan Favia, as Monmouth won 6-5.

Monmouth’s Pete Papcun homered in both the first and third innings against Niagara starter Matthew Brash. This was one of the few blemishes on Brash’s line, as he pitched 8.0 innings and allowed three runs, striking out eight. Michael Gabriele, Cullen and Battaglia all drove in runs in the fifth for NU, as the score was tied up at 3 until the ninth inning. Battaglia drove a single to left, scoring Kirwer and Blanks, to give Niagara a 5-3 lead in the top of the ninth.

Niagara’s lead would not last long, as Matt McCuen emerged from the bullpen and blew the club’s lead in the bottom of the ninth. A hit by Aidan Favia resulted in another error by Greg Cullen, his fourth error of the series. Two runs scored on the play, as the score became tied at 5. This lasted until the walk-off walk in the bottom of the 11th.

The Purple Eagles next will play on April 26 at Sal Maglie Stadium in Niagara Falls, N.Y. They will face Canisius College, with first pitch scheduled for 4:00 p.m.

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