Brad Brach did something no Monmouth University pitcher has done in 17 years, pitch a no-hitter.
Monmouth beat visiting Long Island University, 2-0, behind Brach’s gem on Saturday in West Long Branch.
The Hawks’ ace, a junior from Freehold Township, was two outs from a perfect game when he issued a walk to the Blackbirds’ Dan Etkin with one out in the ninth on a 3-2 pitch. Brach struck out six as he took his record to 4-1 for the season.
“I was able to hit all of my spots today and get ahead of hitters,” said Brach. “It feels awesome to be able to accomplish this and get the win for the team.”
The last Hawk pitcher to author a no-hitter was Glenn Spencer in 1990 against Mount St. Mary’s. That was a seven-inning game.
Monmouth improved to 17-10-1 overall and 3-2 in the Northeast Conference.
The Hawks got Brach all the runs he needed in the first inning. Rick Niederhaus doubled home Kyle Messineo with two out and Shawn Teters followed with an RBI single.
Brach, who made the All-NEC Team in 2006, has been Monmouth’s ace the past two years, leading the team in wins in both ’05 and ’06. He was 6-4 each year. Last spring he led the NEC in earned run average (2.44) and set a school record for strikeouts (82). This year he has a 3.21 ERA. and 41 strikeouts to go with his 4-1 record.
At Freehold Township, Brach was the ace on the Patriot team that won the A North Division title and advanced to the Central Jersey Group IV final. Patriot head coach Frank Gaultieri is hardly surprised by Brach’s collegiate success.
“Brad has that rare combination of talent and the desire to work hard at it,” he said. “It was a privilege to coach him.”
Monmouth hits the road this week and returns home to West Long Branch on April 25 to host Seton Hall (3:30 p.m.). Central Connecticut State comes to town for a big four-game NEC series April 27-29. The teams play a single came on the 27th (3 p.m.), a double-header start at noon on the 28th, and a single game on the 29th (12 p.m.).
– Tim Morris