The second-seeded Central Connecticut baseball team rallied in the ninth for a 5-4 win over Wagner on Friday night at Dodd Stadium in the opening round of the Northeast Conference Championship. Junior Mitch Guilmette delivered a bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth to drive in two runs for the win.
The Blue Devils improve to 34-20 on the season and advance to play Sacred Heart in thw winners game at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday.
Trailing 4-1, Central would mount a late rally in the eighth and ninth innings. Junior Ryan Costello and Guilmette would draw back-to-back walks with two outs in the eighth, which forced Wagner to make a pitching change. Freshman Buddy Dewaine delivered a single to centerfield to drive in a run, making it 4-2 headed to the final frame.
In the Blue Devils' final at bat freshman TT Bowens tripled with one out and junior Dean Lockery followed with a walk. Senior Tyler Coleman singled to right to plate Bowens and make it 4-3. An infield single by Costello would load the bases for Guilmette's game-winning single.
The Blue Devils had their first scoring threat in the fourth. Coleman drew a lead off walk before a two-out single by freshman Buddy Dewaine moved him to third to put runners on the corners. Wagner's Austin Goeke would get a strikeout to end the inning and keep the game scoreless.
Wagner broke up the scoreless deadlock with a pair of runs in the fifth. Kyle Brey and Sean Mazzio hit back-to-back singles with two outs. Anthony Godino followed with a double to right-center to bring Brey and Mazzio around to make it 2-0.
Central would cut the lead in half in the bottom of the sixth, taking advantage of a Wagner error. Costello popped up to shortstop with two outs, but the ball was dropped allowing him to reach first. Costello would move to second on a wild pitch before coming around to score on a double to deep centerfield by Guilmette to make it 2-1.
The Seahawks padded the lead with runs in the seventh and eighth innings. Brey and Mazzio led off the seventh with singles before Freddy Sabido singled up the middle with two outs to score Brey and make it 3-1.
In the eighth, Joe Silvestrone reached on an infield single and stole second base. Brey delivered a single to right field to push the lead to 4-1.
Senior Brendan Smith started for Central and tossed 6.0 innings. He was charged with three runs on eight hits. Junior Kyle Anderson was responsible for a run in 2.0 innings of work. He recorded two strikeouts. Junior Austin Salnitis got the win tossing 0.2 innings of perfect relief with a strikeout.
Guilmette went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and Dewaine finished 2-for-4 with an RBI. Costello had a hit and two runs scored. Lockery drew a pair of walks, setting a single-season school record with his 50th of the season.
Goeke started for Wagner and went 7.2 innings. He allowed two runs on three hits with eight strikeouts and five walks. Neil Abbatiello took the loss, allowing three runs in 0.2 innings.
The Blue Devils will play in the winners game at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday against Sacred Heart.