Senior right hander Nick Neumann pitched seven innings without allowing an earned run to pick up his sixth win of the season as the Central Connecticut baseball team topped third-seed Sacred Heart 4-3 on Thursday night in Norwich, CT. The Blue Devils advance to the winner's bracket game vs. top seed Bryant at 4:15 p.m. on Friday afternoon. Sacred Heart will face Wagner in an elimination game at 12 noon.
Neumann struck out eight before giving way to freshman Matt Blandino in the eighth and ninth innings. Blandino earned his second save of the season pitching the final two innings.
Blandino allowed a single run in the ninth on a wild final play of the game. With runners on second and third, with two outs, the Pioneers hit a chopper over the mound. The throw to first was late getting the batter, the runner on third scored but the trailing runner also tried to score on the play and was thrown out at the plate by junior first baseman Dominic Severino. The game ended with the 4-3 score.
Central is now 27-20 overall on the season. SHU falls to 27-27 overall with the loss.
Central struck first with four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. With men on first and second freshman Franklin Jennings singled to the shortstop and junior Bryan Rivera scored on a throwing error on the play. Two more runs scored in the inning when senior Josh Ingham bunted with two outs and the Pioneers threw the ball away on the play. Senior J.P. Sportman scored from third and Jennings scored from first. A single from junior Dom Severino scored Ingham and the lead was 4-0.
Sacred Heart scored twice in the top of the seventh inning on a pair of Central fielding errors. Both runs were unearned and Neumann forced a ground out to end the threat in the inning.
Neumann allowed just five hits and two unearned runs to move to 6-3 overall on the season.
Central advances to Friday's winner's bracket game and will play top seed Bryant at 4:15 p.m. Bryant defeated Wagner 5-2 in the opening game on Thursday. SHU will face #4 Wagner in the first elimination game of the tournament on Friday at 12 p.m.