WEST HAVEN, Conn. – Behind a stellar performance on the mound from junior lefty Kellen Croce (Middlebury, Conn./Gunnery School), the University of New Haven baseball team posted its third shutout of the season with a 6-0 decision over divisional rival Southern Connecticut State University on Wednesday afternoon at Vieira Field. With the win, New Haven improves to 11-12 on the season and 5-4 in Northeast-10 Conference action.
Croce closed out his team-leading fourth victory of the season with eight scoreless innings, giving up just three hits and walking two batters. He also struck out six, his fifth outing of the season with six or more punch outs. TJ Margiotta (New City, N.Y./Clarkstown North) would close out the game for New Haven, pitching one frame and allowing one hit while striking out two of the four batters he faced.
At the plate, seven different players combined for 10 hits with a trio of Chargers all recording a multi-hit afternoon. Of the three players to finish with a pair of hits, TJ Riccio (Port Jeff Station, N.Y./Comsewogue) and PJ Contreras (Hauppauge, N.Y./Hauppauge) also drove in one run a piece, while James Myers (Saint James, N.Y./Smithtown East) joined them with two hits.
The only extra base hit of the day for the Blue and Gold came off the bat of Jack Zagaja (Merrick, N.Y./St. Dominic) who drilled New Haven’s first hit of the day over the fence for his second home run of the season, tying him with Joe Caico (Hopedale, Mass./Worcester (MA)) for the team lead.
Freshman Andrew Garcia (Medford, N.Y./Patchogue Medford) led the Chargers with a pair of RBI as he closed out the day with one hit in four at bats, however that one hit, a single to right field with the bases loaded, provided a 5-0 cushion for the Blue and Gold. Rounding out the leaders at the plate was Caico who also finished with an RBI, which came on a sacrifice fly in the second.
New Haven opened the scoring in the second with Zagaja’s leadoff solo home run and Caico’s sac fly to left field providing the early 2-0 advantage. The Chargers added a single run in the fourth inning when a leadoff walk to Zagaja paid dividends when it was followed by a single from Riccio and a bunt single from Contreras that allowed Zagaja to score.
Garcia’s bases loaded single to right that drove in two runs in the sixth inning added more insurance, while the Chargers final run of the afternoon came in the bottom of the seventh. With one out in the frame, Nick Perelli and Robert Petrillo (Branford, Conn./Branford) each reached on singles. After a fielding error allowed Zagaja to reach safely and left the bases loaded, Riccio sent a fly ball into left field, sacrificing himself for the Charger run.
New Haven next returns to the diamond for a non-conference doubleheader on Saturday afternoon during spring Alumni Weekend. The Chargers will welcome Caldwell University to Vieira Field with first pitch in the opening game slated for 12:00 p.m.