Wirkus, O’Connell Drive Chargers to 7-6 Victory Over No. 5 Southern Connecticut State

Charger Athletics

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Led by a 10th inning RBI by David Wirkus, the University of New Haven baseball team defeated nationally ranked No. 5 Southern Connecticut State University 7-6 Thursday afternoon at the campus of SCSU. With the win the Chargers improved to 17-11 overall and 6-6 in the Northeast-10 Conference, while the Owls suffered just their second loss of the season and now stand at 27-2, 12-2 NE-10.

Wirkus opened the top of the first inning for UNH with a leadoff single. After stealing second, Wirkus gave the Chargers a 1-0 lead off a Shane O’Connell single to left field. Southern threatened in the bottom of the first with one hit and a pair of walks to load the bases with two outs. A strike out helped keep the Chargers ahead through the first.

The Chargers would take a 3-0 lead in the top of the third inning off a two RBI single by O’Connell to right field. The Owls scored their first run in the bottom of the third, cutting the UNH lead to 3-1 after three.

New Haven then went quiet for four straight innings as the Owls came alive with three runs in three innings to take a 4-3 lead after seven full innings.

In the top of the eighth inning, Ryan Brockett led off with a single up the middle. O’Connell then walked to put the go-ahead run on base. The bases were then loaded after a SCSU error. Freshman second baseman Andrew Johnson stepped to the plate and hit a single through the right side to drive in the game-tying run. In the next at-bat, O’Connell scored the Chargers go-ahead run off a wild pitch which got away from the Owls’ catcher.

Trailing 5-4, Southern took the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning and scored two runs off one hit and one error. A ground out ended the inning, but the Owls held on to a 6-5 lead heading into the ninth inning.

The Chargers first two batters, Wirkus and Stephen Clout, walked to open the ninth inning with two base runners for UNH. A force out at third base kept runners on first and second with one out as O’Connell stepped to the plate. The sophomore walked and loaded the bases for the Chargers. Jack Heary hit into a fielder’s choice which forced the out as second base and drove in the game-tying run from third base.

Freshman pitcher Henry Hirsch stepped to the mount for New Haven in the bottom of the ninth. The rookie shutdown the Owls, allowing just one base runner before the Charger defense connected on a double play to force extra innings.

In the tenth inning, freshman Brendon Buckley led off with a single to right center. Three batters later, Wirkus doubled and drove in Buckley for the game’s winning run.

After the Owls led off with a single in the bottom of the 10th, Hirsch shutdown the Owls bats as the Chargers sealed the victory.

Wirkus drove in the winning run and scored a game-tying run for the Chargers. He also went 2-for-5 at the plate. O’Connell led the Chargers at the dish with three RBI’s, one run scored and two walks, while going 3-for-3. Ryan Brockett went 2-for-5 with two runs scored.

Hirsch earned the win for UNH in two complete innings. He struck out one and held the fifth ranked team in the nation to two hits.

New Haven will return to action on Saturday, April 16 when they host Merrimack College at Frank Vieira Field. The NE-10 doubleheader is set to start at 12 p.m. Live statistics and live audio will be available for the doubleheader. Log on to www.NewHavenChargers.com on Saturday to follow along live.