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Sunday, May 21, 2006

"Hard to believe Harry"..but Monmouth U. baseball suffers late-season collapse

As the late, great Philadelphia broadcaster/outfielder used to vent to Harry Kalas when things went wrong for the Phllies (which was often), "Hard to believe Harry.'

Well, it is hard to believe that the Monmouth University baseball team, which led the Northeast Conference race for most of the season, won't be appearing in the NEC Tournament that begins Thursday at First Energy park.

In a spectacular collapse Monmouth dropped its final seven games of the season, the last six in the NEC, culminating with Sunday's 6-5. 10-inning loss at Wagner, to finish out of the NEC playoffs for the first time in eight years according to the Monmouth sports information department.

In a showdown for the final playoff spot Wagner's Joey Malfettano, a senior graduate of Toms River North, singled with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of th 10th off releiver Kevin Schneider to give Wagner the victory and a sweep of the season-ending three-game series on Staten Island.

Wagner (17-32, 15-9) finished third in the final standings. Monmouth (27-22, 14-9) finished tied with Sacred Hearet (23-28, 14-9) for the fourth and final playoff spot but lost out to the Pioneers on a head-to-head tiebreaker.

Senior Joe Cummings (TR East) started for Monmouth and was charged with five runs, four earned, in six innings as Monmouth fell behind after four innings, 5-0.
But the Hawks battled back and tied the score with four runs in the seventh inning, the last two on a two-out single by freshman Rick Niederhaus.

At one point in the season Wagner was 1-17 overall. It trailed Monmouth by five games when the Hawks started the NEC winning their first 12. But Monmouth then tumbled to 2-9 in the NEC after that while Wagner went 8-4.

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