Bats propel Siena to MAAC Quarterfinals split


West Long Branch, N.J. (NEWS10) — There will be a decisive Game Three in the MAAC Quarterfinals Saturday. Seventh seeded Siena Baseball and No. 2 seed Monmouth split a pair of lopsided affairs in the first two games of the best-of-three MAAC Quarterfinals Friday afternoon on the Jersey Shore. The Saints routed the Hawks 13-5 in the opener, while Monmouth avoided elimination with a 14-2 triumph in the nightcap.

Game 1: Siena 13, Monmouth 5

All nine starters both reached base safely and scored runs and freshman ace Connor Bovair struck out 10 as Siena (15-23) dazzled in its first MAAC Tournament game in three years. The Saints pounded out 13 runs on 13 hits against a vaunted Monmouth (23-11) pitching staff which entered play ranked second nationally in ERA (2.90) and 18th in fewest hits allowed per-nine innings (7.60).

Siena got off to a hot start with solo home runs in each of the first two innings from Brett Young and Tim Carroll and, after Monmouth briefly took the lead with a three-run third, responded in the next half inning with a five-run barrage and never looked back. Matt Livingston and Donovan Montgomery keyed the five-run rally with a pair of two-run hits apiece.

The Hawks pulled within 7-4 through five, but a costly, two-out error by MAAC Rookie of the Year Dixon Black allowed the Saints to put it away in the sixth. Siena took advantage scoring six unearned runs in the frame, punctuated by a two-run single from Pat O’Hare and a two-run double by Evan St. Claire.

The run support was more than enough for Bovair who went seven strong to improve to 4-5 on the season. Arlo Marynczak finished off the victory with a pair of clean innings with four strikeouts.

The Saints chased Monmouth ace Dan Klepchick after just 3.1 innings. Klepchick, who entered the day ranked ninth nationally in both ERA (1.51) and WHIP (0.84), was tagged for six hits and seven runs. He had entered the day having allowed just seven earned runs all season.

Five different batters registered multi-hit performances, four scored two or more runs, and Montgomery and St. Claire paced the lineup with three RBI apiece for Siena which broke out offensively in West Long Branch after having been held to just one total run in the Hawks’ four-game sweep of the Saints here Easter Weekend.

Game 2: Monmouth 14, Siena 2

Monmouth scored in each of the first four innings to stave off elimination and set up Saturday’s decisive Game Three. The Hawks tallied 14 hits and worked eight walks, while also chasing Second Team All-MAAC selection John Lumpinski after just 1.2 innings.

Black atoned for his Game One miscue, homering twice including the back-end of two first inning two-run jacks which staked Monmouth to the early lead.

The Saints battled back with a pair of runs in the second on RBI singles from Eddie Sweeney and Carson Dunkel, but the Hawks got both runs back in the home half of the frame and cruised from there. Jalen Jenkins also homered and scored three times in the win for Monmouth.

Siena did tally 11 hits in defeat, with Devan Kruzinski, O’Hare, and Bryce Porter each notching a pair apiece.

It now comes down to Saturday’s decisive Game Three to determine the fourth and final spot in the MAAC Championship Round set to begin Wednesday at Fairfield. Each side will feature a pair of veteran southpaws, with Siena scheduled to throw Brooks Knapek while Monmouth is expected to counter with MAAC Pitcher of the Year Rob Hensey. First pitch is set for high noon on ESPN+. 

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