Sharks’ season ends at Sacred Heart
Defending champ LIU loses elimination game to Pioneers
A year ago, the Long Island University men’s baseball team was on its way to College Park, Maryland to compete in the NCAA Regionals.
By that high standard, this season ended far too prematurely for the Sharks, who saw their campaign closed out in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., last Thursday night.
The Sharks’ reign as Northeast Conference champions and NCAA participants was halted with a 6-4 loss to Sacred Heart at Heritage Financial Park.
LIU (19-36) fell far short of 2022’s program-record 37-win campaign. But the Sharks still could have played their way back to the NCAAs during the NEC Tournament.
After a sobering 23-2 loss to SHU last Wednesday, the Sharks were in the elimination bracket vs. No. 6 Maryland Eastern Shore a few hours later.
Fortunately for LIU, it had Garrett Yawn to lean on.
The 6-foot-4 junior from Moorpark, California tossed his second career complete game en route to an 8-2 victory that allowed the Sharks to live another day.
Yawn threw a career-high 123 pitches, and gutted through a mound visit in the eighth inning from coach Dan Pirillo, who was about to pull the eventual All-NEC Tournament selection.
Pirillo went back to the dugout after Yawn insisted he could make it through the next four outs without squandering a four-run lead.
He did so in fine fashion, finishing with eight strikeouts and two walks after surrendering a pair of runs on five hits during the nine-inning gem.
“There are a few guys I’ll let do that to me,” Pirillo said of leaving Yawn on the hill.
Yawn, who had tossed his first complete game as a Shark on April 29 at Delaware State in a career-high 11-strikeout performance, finished the year with a 5-5 record and 5.48 ERA with 78 strikeouts over 70 2/3 innings.
“I told myself, ‘This is it,'” Yawn said of his brave effort. “We’ve got a lot of seniors on this team. I just wanted to do it for them.”
Unfortunately, the Sharks couldn’t survive another day.
Left-hander Jack VanDoran shone in the finale, tossing 4 2/3 scoreless innings of relief, but LIU was unable to overcome a four-run fourth by the Pioneers.
Jake Mastillo went 3-for-3 with an RBI for the Sharks, who were unable to mount a serious comeback against SHU reliever Charlie Costello.
LIU managed only two hits over the final five frames against the John Jay High School alum.
Coming off Saturday’s rousing 81-65 victory over visiting Connecticut at Barclays Center, the New York Liberty are headed to Seattle on Tuesday night to face Breanna Stewart’s former team, the Storm.
Stewart scored 21 points in the win over the Sun, who came into Downtown Brooklyn with a perfect 3-0 mark.
The two-time WNBA Most Valuable Player and former Finals MVP had 11 of her points in the fateful third quarter, when New York outscored Connecticut, 25-13, to pull ahead to stay.
Stewart, who scored a franchise-record 45 points in her Liberty debut at Barclays on May 21, will be visiting her ex-teammates for the first time in a game that will tip-off at 9 p.m., and be televised via ESPN 2.
A 6-foot-4 Syracuse University alum, Stewart helped fellow MVP Jonquel Jones vanquish her former Sun teammates.
Jones only managed seven points against Connecticut, but the backcourt tandem of Courtney Vandersloot and Sabrina Ionescu proved unstoppable.
Vandersloot poured in 18 points and handed out 10 assists and Ionescu had 17 points and seven boards for the Liberty (2-1), who will be shooting for their third straight win since dropping their season opener in Washington, D.C., on Opening Night.
Seattle (0-2) will be looking for its first win of the year after opening with back-to-back losses to defending WNBA champion Las Vegas and Dallas.
“I know there’s plenty of buzz around Seattle about the game,” Storm forward Ezi Magbegor told the Seattle Times. “For us as a team, we’re just taking each game day by day. … I didn’t have this game circled or anything like that, but we knew this game was coming up pretty early in the schedule.
“Stewie is a great player in this league and she’s done some great things for this team. Any time a player like that comes home, in a sense, it’s a big deal, especially for the fans.”
After visiting the Storm, the Liberty will head to Chicago on Friday to take on Vandersloot’s former Sky teammates.
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