Central Connecticut claimed its fifth Northeast Conference championship with a 6-3 win over Sacred Heart on Sunday at Dodd Stadium in Norwich, CT. The victory also marked the 500th of head coach Charlie Hickey's career at CCSU. Freshman TT Bowens was named the tournament Most Valuable Player.
The Blue Devils improved to 36-20 with the win and earned their fifth NCAA bid. The NCAA Tournament bracket will be revealed on Monday at 12:00 p.m. on ESPN2.
The Pioneers got a run in the first when they had runners on the corners and freshman Ron Grant was called for a balk to bring home a run and make it 1-0.
The Blue Devils bounced back in the bottom of the first drawing three walks to open the inning and load the bases. Freshman TT Bowens singled to left field to drive in the first run and classmate Buddy Dewaine followed with a fielder's choice that scored a run to make it 2-1.
Junior Nick Garland led off the CCSU second by reaching on an error. He moved to second on a sacrifice and to third on a fielder's choice. Senior Tyler Coleman would deliver a single up the middle to score Garland and make it 3-1.
Sacred Heart put runners on first and second with no outs in the fourth. After a popped up bunt for the first out, Cody Doyle singled through the left side and the runner was sent around third, but Dewaine cut him down at home for the second out. Jake Friar would follow with a single of his own that would bring home Anthony Capaziello from second to make it 3-2.
The Pioneers would load the bases with no outs in the fifth prompting the Blue Devils to bring Curtin on in relief. P.J. DeFilippo grounded into a fielder's choice, but a run came across to tie the score, 3-3, before Central could get out of the inning.
Central regained the lead with a run in the bottom of the inning. Bowens singled with one out and moved to second on a single by senior Franklin Jennings. Junior Nick Garland followed with a single to center to bring Bowens around and make it 4-3.
The Blue Devils added a run in the sixth after junior Dean Lockery led off with a single to right field and took advantage of a misplay to get to third base. Coleman followed with his third single of the day, shooting it past a drawn in infield to right field to score Lockery and make it 5-3.
Bowens ripped a one-out double off the wall in left field in the seventh. He would move to third on a fielder's choice and came across to score on a single by Jennings to make it 6-3 to close out the scoring.
Sophomore Jared Gallagher would come on to get the final out in the eighth, recording a strikeout. He came back out for the ninth and closed out the game with a strikeout to seal the championship.
Coleman would finish the day 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored, while Bowens was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. Jennings added two hits and Lockery scored twice. The Blue Devils finished with 10 hits as a team.
Curtin (3-0) would earn the win, tossing 3.2 innings of shutout relief. He allowed just one hit, while walking one and striking out two. Gallagher got his eighth save of the year, recording two strike outs in 1.1 innings.
Hickey has now won five conference titles with the Blue Devils and has 606 wins, having won 106 at Providence before coming to CCSU. Central won its first championship in Connecticut, having won the previous four times at the postseason tournament in New Jersey.
Bowens batted .636 (7-for-11) on the weekend with two homeruns, five runs scored and three RBIs. He added a double and a triple to hit for the cycle on the weekend.
The Blue Devils will learn their destination for the NCAA Tournament when the bracket is announced at 12:00 p.m. on Monday.