Senior Andrew Hinckley threw 5.0 shutout innings and the Central Connecticut baseball team held off Holy Cross, 3-2, in the season-opener on Sunday at New England Baseball Complex in Northborough, MA. Central built a 3-0 lead and the Crusaders scored twice in the bottom of the ninth before the Blue Devils closed the game out.
CCSU, which was picked second in the preseason Northeast Conference poll, is 1-0 on the season, while Holy Cross, the preseason Patriot League favorite, falls to 0-1.
The Blue Devils got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth inning. Freshman Terry Bowens hit a two-out double to left field and moved to third base on a wild pitch. Following a walk to junior Nick Garland, freshman Buddy Dewaine singled to right to drive in the first run of the game, making it 1-0. CCSU would load the bases with two outs before the Crusaders worked out of the inning.
Central added a run in the fifth after senior Franklin Jennings led off with a double. He moved to third on a fielder's choice and came around to score on a double by junior Dean Lockery to make it 2-0.
Hinckley started for CCSU and was perfect through three innings. He only allowed one runner in the fourth and did not allow a hit until Holy Cross led off the fifth with a single, but retired the next three batters.
Senior Nick Landell and Jennings drew back-to-back one-out walks in the ninth for CCSU and moved to second and third base. Senior Tyler Coleman hit a sacrifice fly to center field, driving in Landell to make it 3-0.
The Crusaders would try to rally in the ninth, getting consecutive singles from Alex Gionis and Josh Hassell to lead off the inning. After the Blue Devils retired the next two batters, Cam O'Neill hit a two-run single to cut the lead to 3-2. Another single would put runners on first and second, but junior Stanley Wolpiuk came on to get a strikeout to end the threat and get the save.
Hinckley finished with seven strikeouts and no walks, while allowing just one hit in 5.0 shutout innings. He got the win to move to 1-0 on the year. Wolpiuk got his first save of the year with a strikeout in 0.1 innings of work.
Central would finish with five hits. Bowens went 2-for-4 in his first collegiate game and scored one run. Coleman, Lockery and Dewaine each drove in a run, while Jennings and Landell each had a run scored.
The Crusaders used a full complement of pitchers on the day. Brendan King started and threw the first inning, recording a walk and a strikeout. Pat McGowan was saddled with the loss, allowing a run on two hits and two walks in 0.2 innings of work.
Holy Cross collected six hits on the day. Austin Masel went 2-for-4 at the plate.
Central is back in action on Friday, February 24. The Blue Devils will play South Dakota St. at 11:00 a.m. and Maine at 3:00 p.m. in Del Ray Beach, FL.