ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Joe Jones gets BU job

Boston College assistant Joe Jones has been hired by Boston University to be its men’s basketball coach.

The school announced Thursday that Jones would replace Patrick Chambers, who left early this month after two years to become head coach at Penn State. Boston reached the NCAA tournament this season where it lost in the second round to Kansas.

Jones was associate head coach at Boston College for one season after seven seasons as head coach at Columbia. The Lions won 16 games in 2006-07, their most since 1992-93.

His college coaching career began at Hofstra as an assistant from 1994-97. He was an assistant at Villanova from 1997-2003 before moving to Columbia. His brother, James, has been head coach at Yale the past 12 seasons.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Vanderbilt still alive

Jason Esposito and the Vanderbilt Commodores are still alive in the College World Series.
Taylor Hill and Corey Williams combined on four-hitter, Connor Harrell and New Canaan's Curt Casali homered and Vanderbilt eliminated North Carolina with a 5-1 victory Wednesday night.
Vanderbilt (54-11) beat the Tar Heels for the second time in the CWS and plays Southeastern Conference rival Florida on Friday. The Commodores are in Omaha for the first time and would need to beat the Gators twice to reach next week’s best-of-three finals.
The Commodores have to face a Florida team that has beaten them in four of five meetings this season, including 3-1 at the CWS.
North Carolina (51-16) left 34 runners on base in its three CWS games and was just 7 for 39 with runners in scoring position.
Hill (6-1) outdueled Greg Holt (7-2) in a matchup of Washington Nationals draft picks.
Hill, taken in the sixth round, allowed a run and four hits in seven innings.
Holt, an eighth-rounder who was making his second start of the season, lasted 2 2-3 innings. He gave up five runs and four hits, leaving after Casali’s homer made it 5-0.
The Tar Heels couldn’t advance a runner past first base after they scored in the fifth.
Hill worked out of trouble that inning after Ben Bunting’s RBI groundout left first base open. Hill intentionally walked All-America Colin Moran with two outs to face Jacob Stallings, who had doubled in his first two at-bats. Stallings fouled off an 0-2 pitch barely outside the left-field line, then swung and missed at strike three.
Williams, who has pitched 5 2-3 scoreless innings in three CWS appearances, came on to start the eighth.
Harrell’s three-run homer put Vanderbilt up 4-0 in the second inning. It was his second in three games here and ninth of the season.
The Commodores opened the scoring when Tony Kemp led off the game with a triple into the right-center gap and scored on a sacrifice fly.

Labels: ,

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ray Allen's daughter headed to Quinnipiac

The Quinnipiac women’s volleyball team has been in the headlines several times over the past few years for its legal wranglings off the court.
Now the team hopes to make some noise on the court with the signing of five players including Tierra Allen, the daughter of Boston Celtics star Ray Allen. Tierra Allen will join the team in the fall of 2011.
She spent her first three years of high school in South Carolina at Crestwood High School, before transferring to Wellesley High in Wellesley, Mass. She was a four-time league all-star and a two-time all-area selection between the two schools.
“Tierra is one of the most powerful athletes I saw last season,” said Quinnipiac coach Robin Sparks. “She has a fantastic jump serve and hits the ball with authority. Once she adjusts to the pace of the
See Quinnipiac, D4
Continued from D1
collegiate game, she is going to be a terrific contributor.”
Tierra Allen was named the region’s player of the year as a junior at Crestwood, before earning Bay State Conference First Team recognition as a senior at Wellesley. She averaged 10 kills and three assists per match.
Ray Allen earned All-American status at UConn playing basketball at the school from 1993-96.
Quinnipiac also signed incoming freshmen Krista Bennett (Scottsdale, Ariz.), Tanner Celestin (Norco, Calif.) and Brittanie Robinson (Fresno, Calif.) and junior college transfer Samantha Jablonski (Center Moriches, N.Y.) in comprising the Bobcats’ class of newcomers.
“I am excited to be adding a solid recruiting class to our program for next Fall,” said Sparks. “Not only do we have five great athletes joining us, but they are five terrific students as well. I expect them to mesh well with our returners and give us depth that we have lacked in the past.”
The Bobcats were 6-24 last season, after receiving a court order that mandated the school maintain the program which it had planned to cut due to budget concerns. The volleyball team fought the school’s intentions in court.
Earlier this year, the Quinnipiac baseball team announced that Mariano Rivera Jr., the son of Yankees’ star Mariano Rivera, will join the team next season.
Contact Bill Cloutier at 203-789-5653. Follow Bill on Twitter @BillCloutier. To receive breaking sports news first — simply text the word “nhsports” to 22700. Standard msg+data rates may apply.

Labels: ,

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Yates a Gold Glover; SCSU announces soccer slate

Guiford’s Mike Yates became the first player in Western Connecticut State University to ever win the national gold glove award when he was named the recipient on the 2011 American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings Gold Glove.
Yates, a junior outfielder, did not commit an error in 114 field chances for the 19-18 Colonials. He registered 111 putouts and had three assists.

SCSU women’s soccer team announces 2011 schedule
Southern Connecticut State University head women’s soccer coach Adam Cohen has announced the team’s 2011 schedule. The season will feature eight of 17 matches played at Jess Dow Field this fall, with the season opener on Sept. 2 against Queens at Franklin Pierce. The Owls are coming off a 2010 season in which they finished with eight wins and were regionally ranked for most of the campaign.

SCSU will start its season with two games at Franklin Pierce – against Queens (Sept. 2) and Mercy (Sept. 3). The Owls will host three games in September – against Southern New Hampshire (Sept. 9), St. Michael’s (Sept. 17) and New Haven (Sept. 20). The month will also consist of four road games – at Le Moyne (Sept. 6), Assumption (Sept. 14), Stonehill (Sept. 24) and Pace (Sept. 28).

During the month of October, the Owls have eight matches, five of which are at home. The home matches are against AIC (Oct. 1), Adelphi (Oct 4), Bentley (Oct. 8), Merrimack (Oct. 22) and St. Rose (Oct. 26). In their three road contests, the Owls will take on Franklin Pierce (Oct. 15), UMass-Lowell (Oct. 18) and Saint Anselm (Oct. 29) in the regular season finale.

Labels: , ,

Monday, June 13, 2011

SCSU announces 8 basketball recruits

Southern Connecticut State University head men’s basketball coach Michael Donnelly has announced that eight student-athletes will join the squad for the upcoming 2011-12 season. Ryan Belote (Meriden, Conn./Maloney HS), Kyle Callanan (Bennington, Vt./Cushing Academy), Kevin Clark (Trumbull, Conn./Christian Heritage), Jose Cruz (Shrewsbury, Mass./Worcester Academy), Luke Houston (Pearl River, N.Y./Pearl River HS) and Tylon Smith (Manchester, Conn./Kingswood-Oxford) will all enter as freshmen, while sophomore Dominique Langston (Bridgeport, Conn.) is a transfer from Division I Quinnipiac University. In addition, the Owls welcome Rashamell Vereen (Meriden, Conn.) who will sit out the 2011-12 season as a transfer from Post University.

“Our coaching staff is very excited about this year’s recruiting class,” Donnelly said. “We feel that we have added quality student-athletes who will not only achieve athletically, but also in the classroom as well. I want to thank both of my assistant coaches, Mike Makubika and Greg Clark, for their hard work and dedication to help bring in an outstanding recruiting class.”

Belote, a 5-foot-10 guard, was an All-State, All-Area and three-time All-Conference performer at Maloney (Conn.) High School. A three-year captain, he won a state championship with the Spartans as a freshman and helped the team to a league title and undefeated regular season as a senior. Belote was a three-time All-Conference pick, a two-time New Haven Register All-Area honoree and was also named Academic All-State.

Callanan, a 6-foot-2 guard, spent the 2010-11 season as a post-graduate at Cushing (Mass.) Academy after a decorated scholastic career at Mount Anthony Union High School (Vt.), where he finished his career as the school's all-time leader in both points and assists. He averaged 17 points and six assists per game at Cushing Academy while helping the Penguins to a 23-win season. He was also named Third-Team All-NEPSAC Class AA this past year.

Clark, a 6-foot-3 swingman, played scholastically at Christian Heritage School, where he was an Adidas All-American. Also a two-time All-Conference selection, he scored more than 1,000 points in his career and helped his squad win the 2011 National Christian Invitational Tournament. Clark also helped his team win its first two league titles in school history. A team captain, he was also a three-time winner of the team’s Sportsmanship Award.

Cruz, a 6-foot-7 forward, joins the Owls after spending the 2010-11 year at Worcester Academy, where he was awarded the Lawson Riley Award. While at Shrewsbury (Mass.) High School, he was a two-time league All-Star and helped his squad to the league title in 2010. Cruz was also a 2010 Worcester Telegram and Gazette All-Star.

Houston, a 5-foot-10 guard, collected an array of accolades in a decorated career at Pearl River (N.Y.) High School. As a senior, he averaged 20.3 points per contest en route to Rockland County Player of the Year honors. He was also named the Class A Most Valuable Player by MSG Varsity. Houston also collected All-State, All-County, All-Section and All-League honors while also serving as a team captain in his final season.

Langston, a 6-foot-4 guard/forward, played in 30 games as a freshman at Quinnipiac University last season. He averaged 7.1 points and 4.4 rebounds per contest and helped the Bobcats reach the post-season for the second year in a row. He played scholastically at Kolbe Cathedral (Conn.) and was a two-time All-State pick there before attending St. Thomas More (Conn.) in 2009-10 en route to All-Conference honors. Langston was also recognized as a McDonald’s All-America nominee and was invited to play in the 2009 New England High School All-Star Challenge.

Smith, a 6-foot-2 powerful guard, was a five-year member of the varsity squad at Kingswood-Oxford and led his team to the 2011 New England Prep School Men's Basketball Association Class B Championship. A two-year team captain, he averaged more than 30 points per contest as a senior and more than 25 points per outing as a junior. Smith was named First-Team All-New England Class B and was the MVP of the Class B NEPSAC Tournament this past season.

Vereen, a 5-foot-11 guard, will sit out the 2011-12 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Vereen will have one season of eligibility remaining in 2012-13. He averaged 7.6 points and 3.4 rebounds at Post in 2009-10 under Donnelly. As a scholastic standout at Maloney (Conn.) High, he led the Spartans to the Class L state championship game as a senior and was named MVP of the contest. He was also an All-State selection as a senior.

Southern Connecticut opens its 2011-12 season on Saturday, November 12 at the University of Bridgeport Tournament. The Owls are coming off a 2010-11 campaign in which they reached the Northeast-10 Conference Tournament for the first time in nine years and posted the third-best win turnaround in all of Division II (+10 victories).


Sunday, June 12, 2011

UConn eliminated in super regional

UConn's run at a berth in the College World Series ended in an 8-2 loss to South Carolina on Sunday night.

Here are the details from Columbia, S.C.:

Defending national champion South Carolina is heading back to the College World Series.
Christian Walker homered in the eighth inning broke a 2-all tie and the Gamecocks turned three straight inning-ending double plays to defeat Connecticut 8-2 and sweep the NCAA Super Regional on Sunday night.
South Carolina put the game away with a five-run ninth, clinching its second consecutive trip to Omaha, Neb., and fifth since 2002. It was the Gamecocks’ 11th straight NCAA tournament win, a streak that started last year at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb.
The Huskies (45-20-1) led 2-0 entering the fourth and had several chances to extend the lead but could not cash in against South Carolina (50-14), stranding eight runners and closing the fifth, sixth and seventh innings with double plays.
Gamecocks closer Matt Price got the final six outs for his 18th save and third of the NCAA tournament.
Price threw his arms high in the air when Connecticut second baseman LJ Mazzilli struck out to end the game, and catcher Robert Beary tackled him to the ground before the rest of the team piled on in celebration. The sellout crowd of 8,242 cheered and screamed as The Counting Crows song, “Omaha,” played on the PA system at Carolina Stadium.
John Taylor (6-1) was the fourth of five South Carolina pitchers, inducing the double play that ended the seventh, and picked up the win. Greg Nappo (10-3), who last week pitched UConn to its Clemson Regional clincher, held on as long as he could until surrendering Walker’s 10th homer of the season.
It’s the second straight year Walker’s home sent South Carolina to the CWS. He hit a three-run blast in the ninth inning of the Gamecocks 10-9 comeback win to beat Coastal Carolina.
Connecticut came apart after an early lead in Saturday night’s 5-1 loss. But the Huskies tapped into the resolved formed in last week’s Clemson Regional when they dropped the opening game, then rallied to victory, including consecutive wins at Doug Kingsmore Stadium against the favored Tigers.
The Huskies again started quickly, shortstop Nick Ahmed starting a string of four straight two-out singles in the second that put UConn ahead 2-0.
But just like Game 1, the Gamecocks rallied back. Jake Williams RBI double in the fourth brought in Brady Thomas. Two innings later, Robert Beary’s single to center brought in Adrian Morales.
Connecticut had its chances to put some distance between itself and the Gamecocks with runners on in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. South Carolina escaped each time with a double play.
The Huskies best chance came in the sixth when they loaded the bases with one out. But Doug Elliot tapped the ball back to Taylor, who started a 1-2-3 double play to end the threat.
South Carolina looked like it, too, might put things away after Walker’s homer led off the eighth. But center fielder George Springer, the Houston Astros first-round draft pick last Monday night, made a tumbling, running grab near the fence on Steven Neff’s fly ball with the bases loaded to keep Connecticut down a run.
The Gamecocks broke the game open with the five-run ninth, the big hit Peter Mooney’s two-run double.
The Huskies were in the program’s first Super Regional series. They last went to the College World Series in 1979.
AP-WF-06-12-11 2216EST

Labels: ,

Saturday, June 11, 2011

UConn falls in super regional opener

The UConn baseball team dropped its Super Regional opener on Saturday night. UConn must win two straight to reach the CWS.

Here are the game details:

Michael Roth pitched into the ninth, allowing six hits, and Scott Wingo had two RBIs as South Carolina defeated Connecticut 5-1 in the NCAA Super Regional on Saturday night.
The defending national champion Gamecocks (49-14) are a win away from a return trip to the College World Series.
Roth (13-3) came in second in the country with a 1.10 ERA and lived up to that against the Huskies (45-18-1). He got stronger as the game progressed, notching his first two strikeouts of the game on UConn stars George Springer and Mike Nemeth in the eighth inning. Roth finally left with one out in the ninth to a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 8,242 at Carolina Stadium.
Wingo tied the game at 1-all in the third with an RBI single, then put the Gamecocks (49-14) up 3-1 with a run-scoring hit off Connecticut ace Matt Barnes (11-5).
Connecticut came in with momentum after winning two straight at Clemson to capture last week’s NCAA regional and two first-round MLB draft picks in center fielder Springer and Barnes. Early on, the Huskies were every bit the match for the defending national champions. Springer singled and scored on Mike Nemeth’s hit for a 1-0 lead. Then Barnes showed off his power arm, hitting 97 mph at times and striking out the side to quiet the large crowd.
Connecticut had the chance to add to its lead in the second when shortstop Peter Mooney threw wild into the dugout to put Nick Ahmed on second. When Nick Friel walked it left runners on the corners with one out. But Billy Ferriter’s bunt up the first base line went right to South Carolina’s Christian Walker, who cut down Ahmed at home. LJ Mazzilli flied out to center to end the threat.
South Carolina tied the game in the third on Marzilli’s two-out double and Wingo’s RBI single. The Gamecocks moved in front for good in fourth, helped by a tiring Barnes. Jake Williams worked a two-out walk and Mooney singled him to third. Then Barnes let loose with a pitch wide of catcher Doug Elliott and Williams scored easily.
South Carolina put it away and chased Barnes with a three-run fifth. Steven Neff led off with a double and Wingo singled him home. Another Barnes wild pitch moved Wingo to third before consecutive hits by Brady Thomas and Adrian Morales made it 5-1.
Roth didn’t have many problems after Connecticut’s first two innings. He gave up a hit to start the third that was quickly erased on a double play and then didn’t allow another hit until the seventh when UConn had runners on first and third. Again, though, Roth pitched out of trouble when John Andreoli grounded out to second
Roth, a junior, was picked in the 31st round by the Cleveland Indians and has been South Carolina’s ace since the season began. He showed that grit against Connecticut, when he struck out Springer and Nemeth. Roth got a big cheer when he ran out to the mound for the ninth. Roth didn’t last, though, pulled with a one out and a runner on first.
John Taylor got the last two outs for the Gamecocks, who will try and reach their fifth CWS since 2002 when these teams take the field on Sunday.
Connecticut is playing in its first super regional series as it tries for its first trip to Omaha since 1979. AP-WF-06-11-11 2116EST

Labels: ,

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Notes: SCSU baseball, Yale's Mangano

Owls Finish Year Ranked No. 4 In Two National Polls
A trip to the national semifinals has earned the Southern Connecticut State University baseball team a No. 4 final national ranking in both the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and the College Baseball Lineup polls. The Owls finished the 2011 season with a final mark of 45-9-1, setting a new single-season record for victories.
The Owls also won their first College World Series games in school history, finished No. 1 in New England and won the Northeast-10 Conference regular season title for the second consecutive year.

Yale's Mangano invited to Jr. National Team tryouts
Greg Mangano has already enjoyed one successful trip to China this offseason. Now, he’s hoping to return later this summer.

Mangano is one of 22 of the nation’s top collegiate athletes who have accepted invitations from the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team Committee to attend the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s World University Games Team training camp.

The training camp, which will be held July 29-Aug. 7 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs, Colo., will be used to select the 12-member team that will represent the USA at the 2011 World University Games men’s basketball competition Aug. 13-23 in Shenzhen, China.

“The opportunity to try out for the USA team is a tremendous honor,” said Mangano, who averaged 21.5 points in four games during Yale’s 10-day visit to China in May. “I'm excited to have the chance to play against some of the best players in the country. My goal is to make the team and have an opportunity to represent our country in the world games. If nothing else, the tryout will help me improve my game by playing against the best competition which will only help me for my last season at Yale.”

Joining Mangano at the camp will be Notre Dame’s Tim Abromaitis, VCU’s Bradford Burgess, Missouri’s Marcus Denmon, Missouri’s Kim English, Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates, Pittsburgh’s Ashton Gibbs, Michigan State’s Draymond Greem, Alabama’s JaMychal Green, Xavier’s Tu Holloway, Syracuse’s Scoop Jardine, Vanderbilt’s John Jenkins, UC Santa Barbara’s Orlando Johnson, Minnesota’s Trevor Mbakwe, Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum, Texas A&M’s Khris Middleton, Kentucky’s Darius Miller, Alabama’s Tony Mitchell, West Virginia’s Aaric Murray, UConn’s Alex Oriakhi, Northwestern’s John Shurna and Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor.

“After a lot of thought and consideration of potential players, the committee has put together a very strong roster for the training camp,” said USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team Committee Chair Jim Boeheim, the head coach at Syracuse. “As always, the committee will be looking for not only the most talented players, but also players that will work well as a team.”
Mangano, an Orange, Conn., native, is coming off a season in which he finished ninth in the nation in blocked shots (3.0 per game) and 24th in rebounding (10.0 rpg.). He averaged 16.3 points and was a unanimous first team All-Ivy selection and earned all-district honors from the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).
Mangano led the Ivy League in rebounding and blocked shots and was second in scoring. He is the first Ivy player to average a double-double for the season since Harvard’s Kyle Snowden in 1995-96. His numbers were even more impressive in Ivy games where he averaged 18.6 points and 10.4 rebounds, which both led the league.
Mangano, a four-time Ivy League Player of the Week selection, was dominant on both ends of the floor. His 85 blocks were the most in a season in school history and the third most in Ivy history. In addition, his 51 blocks in league games were a new Ivy record. He scored 20 points or more in nine games this season, including tallying a career-high 30 in a victory at Dartmouth. He led the Bulldogs in rebounding in all but four games and grabbed a career-high 17 at Brown.
In addition, he became the first Yale player since Chris Dudley in 1986-87 to average a double-double for the season.
Purdue University head coach Matt Painter, who previously assisted the 2009 USA U19 World Championship Team to a gold medal, is the head coach of the 2011 USA Men’s World University Games Team, while collegiate head coaches Cuonzo Martin of the University of Tennessee and Brad Stevens of Butler University will serve as assistant coaches.
The World University Games are held every other year and are organized by the International University Sports Federation (FISU). The United States, which has claimed a medal in every World University Games since beginning play in 1965, has captured a record 13 golds, three silvers and three bronze medals in the 19 WUGs in which a USA Basketball men’s squad has competed.

SCSU third in NE-10 in President's Cup standings:
The Southern Connecticut State University athletic department has placed third out of 16 institutions in the 2010-11 Northeast-10 Conference Presidents’ Cup race. The Owls totaled 161 points to match their highest finish and post their highest point total since joining the league. In the process, Southern Connecticut placed in the top three in the Presidents’ Cup for the second time in the past three years. The Presidents’ Cup is presented annually to signify overall athletic excellence in the Northeast-10 Conference and is awarded to the institution that compiles the most points based on the placement at the conclusion of the regular season of each of its programs which compete in league championships. SCSU is one of only public institutions in the conference.

Labels: , ,

Monday, June 6, 2011

UConn reaches super regionals

Greg Nappo pitched 5 2-3 strong innings, Ryan Fuller hit a three-run homer and drove in five runs, and Connecticut beat Clemson 14-1 on Monday night to win the NCAA Clemson Regional.
Nappo (10-2) gave up only one run and five hits, and leadoff hitter LJ Mazzilli had two hits and scored three runs for the Huskies (45-18-1), who will play at South Carolina in this weekend’s super regionals.
UConn scored three runs in the first inning, added five runs in the fifth and tacked on six more in the eighth.
Tigers starter Kevin Pohle (5-2) was knocked out after getting only one out. Ryan Fuller homered for Clemson (43-20).
It was an especially big night for UConn, which is in the NCAA tournament for only the second time since 1994. Outfielder George Springer and pitcher Matt Barnes were taken in the first round of the Major League draft.
UConn next opponent, South Carolina was led by Evan Marzilli, who drove in two runs, and closer Matt Price who got the final eight outs as the defending national champions beat Stetson 8-2 Monday to win the Columbia Regional.
Marzilli led off the game with a homer and made it 2-1 in the third on a sacrifice fly that brought in Robert Beary, who opened the inning with a triple. Beary added an RBI single in the fourth for South Carolina (48-14).
The Hatters’ (43-20) best chance to rally came in the seventh when they loaded the bases with one out while trailing 4-1. That’s when Price got the call and shut down Stetson, getting Ben Carhart on a fly ball and Nick Rickles on a grounder to second. Price earned his 17th save of the season and second of the regional.

Labels: ,

Sunday, June 5, 2011

New look for SCSU

For anyone who has ever walked across the field at Jess Dow Stadium on the campus of Southern Connecticut State, you know how worn out it was.

It's also gone.

SCSU is in the midst of replacing the turf which was over 10 years old and wearing out badly. While the new field won't be blue like cross-town rival New Haven, it will be a pleasure to watch games on and even better for the players.

The new fields aren't as fast as old ones, they're softer and deeper but they will be welcomed by football players. Soccer players don't seem to complain about the new surface but field hockey players often balk about bad hops.

It was badly needed.


West Florida wins the DII World Series

In case you care, after Southern Connecticut State was eliminated from the DII World Series on Thursday night, West Florida defeated Winona State to win the title on Saturday 12-2.
West Florida defeated SCSU in the tourney opener earlier in the week 13-0. Southern fell to Winona State on Thursday setting the stage for Saturday's title game.

Here are the details of the finale at Cary, N.C.:

Greg Pron lost 32 games during his 2008 freshman season at West Florida. The idea of him ever celebrating a national championship on a June afternoon in North Carolina seemed as likely as finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

But when closer Shane Waller threw strike three over the plate against Winona State’s Seth McMullen in the bottom of the ninth inning of the NCAA Division II national championship game Saturday, Pron joined his teammates on the mound in a frenzied celebration, a 12-2 win in the books, hats scattered across the field and those 32 losses a distant memory.

The senior right fielder only had one hit in the game in six trips to the plate, but it didn’t matter on this sun-kissed day at the USA Baseball National Training Complex.

Pron, who hit .322 as a freshman and ended up as one of the top hitters in program history, had a trophy in his hands and that was worth more than any hit.

“As we got near the end of the game waiting for that last out, you could feel the excitement,” Pron said. “It’s amazing to win it. I’ve experienced both extremes. We were the worst team around. We took it to heart and look where it got us. It got us a national championship.”

The national championship is the first for West Florida (52-9), which cranked out 15 hits and never looked back after jumping in front 4-0 in the first inning.

The fourth-ranked Argonauts became the fifth team from the Sunshine State in the last seven years to win a title.

Head coach Mike Jeffcoat remembers what it was like to watch the team struggle during the 2008 season. But like his players, he never lost hope. He always believed that life would get better and that a day like Saturday would eventually materialize.

“Some of the freshman from that team didn’t come back, but we had a good core of players and that season was a great learning experience,” Jeffcoat said. “We stayed the course and believed in our vision of winning a championship. We talked about winning one all the time and it feels good to make it happen.”

A big first inning was all the Argonauts needed to put the No. 16 Warriors (42-18) on their heels. Taye Larry led off the game with a hit and eventually scored when Josh Huggins beat out the throw for a single and gave the speedy Larry time to race around the base paths and score for a 1-0 lead.

Leo Lamarche drilled a single to left to drive in a run and Zach Taylor smacked a two-run hit to centerfield to push the West Florida advantage to 4-0. Taylor’s hit was the dagger in an inning where the five through nine hitters in the Argonauts lineup combined for three hits and four RBI.

“It was big to have those guys step up,” Jeffcoat said. “The four-run inning really took the pressure off. You don’t expect that in a championship game. We were excited right out of the gate.”

Yet, Winona State wasn’t going to give up its championship dream without a fight. The Warriors trailed 4-0 in the first inning of their victory against Southern Connecticut on Thursday night, so they were confident they could put together another rally.

The bottom of the first started off well. Tony Mueller and Nate Van Roekel both tallied singles but hope would fade fast for the Warriors against Daniel Vargas-Vila (16-1), who gave up 10 hits on the day and struck out seven in eight innings of work.

Mueller, who has been an offensive star all season for the Warriors, hitting .388 with 33 RBI, talked about the frustration of not being able to get the offense clicking against the Argonauts.

“We’ve been in that situation before, down four runs, and we weren’t too worried,” Mueller said. “We got those first two hits and felt like we could get something going. We just couldn’t put it together today.”

The Warriors scored their only two runs in the eighth when Cody Strang ripped a triple to center to drive in two runs and give the Winona State fans something to cheer about, if only for a moment.

Still, finishing second to a West Florida team that won 22 consecutive games earlier this year and even held the No. 1 ranking is nothing to feel bad about.

Warriors head coach Kyle Poock had to fight back tears as he talked about the season coming to an end after such a remarkable run. Keep in mind that the Warriors didn’t even win the regular season Northern Sun Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament championship.

“It’s been a goal of our program to get to this level and compete,” Poock said. “We have been very successful and had a great year. I’m proud of my guys. We had our chances but West Florida is a great baseball team.”

Mueller finished with three hits to pace the Warriors. Van Roekel and Adam Gemuenden came through with two hits apiece.

Kodey Simon (8-3) took the loss. He lasted four innings and gave up seven runs on nine hits. He recorded two strikeouts as well.

West Florida scored 10 or more runs for the second time in the national tourney. Larry, Huggins and Brandon Brewer, another player on that 2008 team, all had three hits in the win.

“I struggled with my location and got behind a lot,” Simon said. “You can’t do that against a good hitting team.”

As music blared over the speakers and the West Florida fans danced in the stands as they watched their team savor the special moment, Pron reflected on this remarkable journey, a journey that seemed unlikely a few years earlier.

“It’s awesome,” Pron said. “Words can’t describe it. We’ve worked so hard for this and it’s great to see that hard work pay off.”

Labels: ,

Thursday, June 2, 2011

SCSU eliminated in CWS

Southern Connecticut was eliminated from the Division II World Series on Thursday night. The Owls end the season with a remarkable 45-9-1 mark.

Five different players registered multiple hits, but the No. 8 nationally ranked Southern Connecticut State University baseball team was defeated by No. 16 nationally ranked Winona State on Thursday evening, 7-5. The Owls had the winning run at the plate in the bottom of the ninth but couldn’t connect.

Winona State (42-17) advances to Saturday’s championship game against West Florida.

It was a contrast for the Owls, who had to come-from-behind to win its last two games in the College World Series. On this night, Southern Connecticut jumped out with four runs in the bottom of the first inning to take a 4-0 lead.

Kyle Cummings (Hamden, Conn.) singled to start the inning and move to second base one out later on a single by Kyle Rosadino (Berwyn, Pa.). Ryan Geffert (Plymouth, Pa.) followed with another single that loaded the bases. A.J. Rouleau (Westborough, Mass.) then singled up the middle to drive in two runs. Bryan Dorsey (Cheshire, Conn.) followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0 before T.K. Kiernan (Wallingford, Conn.) singled home Rouleau to make it 4-0.

However, Winona State scored four times in the top of the second to even the score. Three of those runs were unearned.

Southern Connecticut regained the lead with a run in the third. Rouleau, Dorsey and Michael Cleary (West Boylston, Mass.) all singled to load the bases with two outs. T.J. Shea (Hamden, Conn.) then bounded a ball to shortstop to allowed Rouleau to score.

Winona State countered with three runs in the fifth inning, all of which came with two outs, to take a 7-5 lead.

From there, the Owls had the tying run at the plate in the sixth and eighth inning, and a pair of hit batsmen in the ninth put the winning run at the plate.

Rouleau, Rosadino, Kiernan, Cleary and Shea all finished with two hits apiece for the Owls.

Labels: ,