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Baseball sweeps Wagner, Monmouth doubleheaders

The real season has yet to begin for Princeton baseball, but if this weekend was any indication, the team has fully shaken off any early season rustiness and looks primed to start Ivy League play.

The Tigers (7-3) swept two doubleheaders – their home opener against Wagner Saturday and at Monmouth Sunday – to snap a three-game losing streak and earn their first victories against a school not named Elon.

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Sunday, Princeton never trailed Monmouth (9-11) as the Tigers' offense exploded in the early innings of both games, defeating the Hawks, 7-2 and 11-4. The victories serve as revenge against Monmouth and the 7-4 loss they dealt the Tigers March 24.

In Princeton's game-one victory, the Tigers scored four runs in the first inning and two in the second, while in game two the Tigers jumped out with six first inning runs, and added five more in the second for the 11-4 blowout.

Spark plug

Leadoff hitter and junior left fielder Jason Koonin paced the Tigers with five hits on the afternoon – including a 4-for-4 performance in the first game – and freshman designated hitter Max Krance belted his first collegiate home run in the second game.

"Sunday was the first time this year that everything came together," head coach Scott Bradley said. "It's the first time we really came out and swung the bat the way we're capable of."

Bradley, who called Sunday's performance the best of the season, indicated that the Tigers' great play over the weekend was due mostly to getting some game experience.

Saturday at Clarke Field, solid pitching and timely hitting fueled Princeton against Wagner (3-15). While the Tigers easily took the first game, 5-2, the second game provided some early season drama.

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With the Tigers trailing 3-2 with one out in the bottom of the sixth, senior shortstop Justin Griffin smacked a triple into the left field corner to knock in two runs and put the Tigers ahead to stay for an eventual 5-3 win.

Confidence

The victory could be an important one for the Tigers, giving the team confidence that it can come back from late-inning deficits and win ballgames.

Junior pitcher Tim Killgoar looked masterful through the early part of the second game. The lefty entered the sixth working on a one-hitter with a seemingly comfortable 2-0 lead, but a couple of walks sandwiched between a single to right forced Bradley to take the junior out of the game with two out and the bases loaded.

After Killgoar exited, the Seahawks, with one swing of the bat, turned around what looked to be a sure Princeton victory. Gil Barkman delivered a bases-clearing double to the gap in right off of junior Asher Griffin, who came in to relieve Killgoar, to put Wagner up 3-2 before Justin Griffin's game-winning triple in the bottom of the inning.

Start to finish

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In the first game of the doubleheader, senior right-hander Bryan Stroh went the distance, giving up just one earned run in seven innings of work to earn the victory.

In the game, the hitting of Koonin, senior center fielder Mike Hazen, and Evans – the first three batters in the Princeton lineup – helped propel the Tigers to a 5-0 lead they would never relinquish. The trio went a combined 5 for 10, knocking in all five runs and scoring twice.

The Tigers play today at Rutgers, and will open their Ivy League campaign at Clarke Field this weekend with doubleheaders against Harvard and Dartmouth.

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