By Mike Radomski
(BRIDGEPORT, Conn.) – Sacred Heart (9-12) and Quinnipiac (2-17) split a doubleheader today at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard with the Pioneers winning the first game 11-1 and the Bobcats taking the second game 8-3.
The afternoon began with a complete game from Sacred Heart pitcher Jared Balbach and an offensive performance that featured a hit from every single Pioneer starter in the lineup.
It didn’t take the offense long to find its rhythm as Sacred Heart rallied for two runs against Bobcat starter Tony Cinelli in the very first inning.
Shortstop John Murphy hit a sacrifice fly for the first run of the game and catcher John Heppner followed up with a solo home run for the two run lead. The Pioneers would add another run in the second inning and it was more than enough offense for Jared Balbach on this afternoon.
The lefty allowed just three hits on the afternoon and an unearned run that he allowed in the third inning.
Now ahead 3-1, Sacred Heart sought more offense and found it in a familiar spot from John Murphy. The freshman hit a two-run single to right field and pushed the lead to four. Murphy went 2 for 3 in the first contest with a game-high five RBIs. The infielder would add another two-run double in the 6th inning as Sacred Heart won 11-1.
Jared Balbach improved to 3-2 with the win while Quinnipiac’s starter Tony Cinelli now has a record of 0-2 this season. The sophomore pitched 4 2/3 innings allowing 6 runs on a total of 12 hits. Andrew Rinaldi then came in for the last four outs, but also had difficulty against the Pioneers lineup as he allowed five runs as well.
With Sacred Heart now ahead two games to none in the series, Quinnipiac looked to split the doubleheader and look towards evening the series.
Just like in game one, Sacred Heart was able to score first, this time against Bobcat pitcher Kyle Birdsall. Sophomore infielder Hunter Phillips handed the Pioneers a 1-0 lead with a sacrifice fly and the score would stay that way until the top of the fifth.
Corey Corcoran had retired 11 of the last 12 Quinnipiac batters he faced entering the inning, but the lefty soon ran into trouble. Ben Farina reached on an error to start the inning and the Bobcats quickly took advantage.
Mickey Amanti hit an RBI double to tie up the game and Kyle Nisson gave Quinnipiac their first lead of the game with a pinch hit RBI single. Another fielding error on Sacred Heart scored another run for the Bobcats and Quinnipiac led 3-1 after the inning.
Sacred Heart continued the sloppy defense with two more errors in the sixth inning that helped Quinnipiac take a 6-1 lead. The Pioneers added a run in the sixth inning, but Quinnipiac put the game away for good with another three runs in the final inning.
Brian Monack and Ben Farina both walked with the bases loaded to force in a run, and Gabe Guerino reached on an infield single in the 8-2 Bobcats win.
Kyle Birdsall pitched the complete game for Quinnipiac earning his second win of the season. The junior allowed two runs on four hits, while striking out six Pioneers on the afternoon.
Corey Corcoran takes the loss for Sacred heart as his record drops to 1-2 on the season. The pitcher lasted just 4 2/3 innings, allowing 3 runs, although one of them was earned.
The bullpen faltered down the stretch for Corcoran and the Pioneers. The relievers threw a combined 2 1/3 innings but managed to allow five runs (three earned) on one hit and seven walks.
With the split of the doubleheader, Quinnipiac’s record improves to 2-17 on the season and 2-5 in the Northeast Conference. Sacred Heart, on the other hand, finds themselves with a 9-12 record overall and a conference record of 2-1.
Both teams will meet again in the series finale tomorrow morning at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard. First pitch is scheduled for ten o’clock in the morning and the Quinnipiac Bobcats need a win to split the series with Sacred Heart while the Pioneers will look to win the series on Friday at home.