By Robert Held
Central Connecticut State University saw their baseball season come to an end Friday afternoon. The Blue Devils in Norwich at Dodd Stadium, during the Northeast Conference Tournament with a score of 2-0 to the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights.
The game ended with a bit of controversy. In the bottom of the ninth, the Blue Devils had runners on first and second with one out, when Franklin Jennings was called out at second with what was ruled an illegal slide, causing the runner at first base to automatically be ruled out for the final out of the game. Central finished the season with an overall record of 23-34.
The game was a pitcher’s duel between Central’s Mike Appel and Fairleigh Dickinson’s Corey Zeller, as each team only had one hit after three innings. In fact, the first run came on a double play that allowed Fairleigh Dickinson’s Dylan Sprague to score from third. It was a tough loss to take for Appel, who pitched 6.1 innings allowing only five hits, two earned runs and with a pair of strikeouts.
Fairleigh Dickinson’s Bobby Romano drove in the second run of the game with a single off last week’s NEC Player of the Week Casey Brown, who came on in relief of Appel.
Central had plenty of chances to score though; the Blue Devils left nine men on base during the game. In the bottom of the fourth, Central had runners on first and third with no outs and could not manage to score. Central threatened again in the bottom of the fifth, with runners on first and second with only one out, but again the Blue Devils could not score.
In the bottom of the eighth Central got the first two batters on base with nobody out, before Nick Garland flied out, Dean Lockery flied out and Andrew Hinckley struck out to end the inning.
Brown pitched strong for Central going 2.2 innings, allowing only three hits, one intentional walk, two strikeouts and no earned runs, in his final game as a Blue Devil. It was also a strong start for Zeller with his team facing elimination, he pitched 7.1 innings allowing five hits and striking out three, while picking up the win. Ryan Brennan pitched in relief for Fairleigh Dickinson. He pitched 1.1 innings, allowing two hits and no walks, striking out one, while picking up the save.
Fairleigh Dickinson plays again tomorrow at noon against the loser of Sacred Heart vs. Bryant University. The winner of that game will play the winner of Sacred Heart vs. Bryant for the NEC title on Sunday.
“It is disappointing that the season ended this way but that is what happens when you can’t drive runs in,” said Carla Mangiafico, a Berlin resident and fan of Central baseball.