MU and Brach brothers looking for NEC repeat

Hawks looking to win NEC tourney; NCAA bid goes to winner

When Monmouth University’s baseball team looked to nail down an NCAA berth last weekend, Brach brothers Brad and Brett certainly loomed large.

Brad Brach, a senior, has been the ace of the Hawks staff since he first arrived on the West Long Branch campus, and Brett Brach, a sophomore, has pitched his way into the starting rotation this spring.

Baseball success has followed the brothers wherever they play. Both won division titles at Freehold Township High School and both played on championship Little League teams.

Teammates for the first time since Brad Brach was a senior and Brett Brach a sophomore at Freehold Township, they helped Monmouth University win the Northeast Conference Championship and go to the NCAA Tournament last year.

The Hawks were looking to duplicate that feat at the NEC Tournament that ran May 22-24 at Bernie Robbins Stadium in Atlantic City, home to the Atlantic City Surf of the Independent Northern League.

Dean Ehehalt’s Hawks were the tournament’s top seed as the league’s regular season champions. The Hawks were 20-5 in conference play and 35-13 overall.

Brad Brach breaks Hawk records every time he takes the mound. He began the season with the career record for wins (21) and has extended that to 28. He broke the career strikeout record (219 by Mike Lilola) early in the season as well as career innings pitched (268.1 by Mike Benfield). The strikeout mark currently is 272 and counting for the 6-4 right-hander and his career innings is at 318. Brad Brach also had the career lowest earned-run average, 3.09, and has decreased it with his 2.92 ERA in ’08.

This spring, Brad Brach has been as good as ever. He’s been the NEC Pitcher of the Week twice and is 7-2 (the most wins on the team) His 2.92 ERAis the best on the team. In 11 starts, he has two completed games and one shutout. He’s fanned 63 in 74 innings.

In NEC he’s been even better with a 6- 1 record and a 2.34 ERA.

Brett Brach, who has been used in long relief as closer and starter during his career, has appeared in 12 games, nine as a starter. He’s 4-2 with a 4.53 ERA and he has two saves.

In NEC games, the sophomore is 3-1 with a 4.36 ERA.

Monmouth defeated the No. 4 seed, Mount St. Mary’s (13-11 in conference play) by a score of 12-7 in the first game of the NEC tournament.

The final was Saturday at noon. Then, if necessary, a game would follow 30 minutes after the completion of that game.

Wagner,whichwent 17-11 inNEC, is the No. 3 seed, and one of its top players in center fielderDamianCsakai,who just happens to have been a teammate of the Brach brothers while at Freehold Township. He is a sophomore and was a key player with Brett Brach on the Patriots team that won the A North title two years ago.