Hofstra ace John Rooney reacts after ending his night with a big strikeout (Aaron Fitt)


Rooney, Brnovich Deliver Special Duel


ELON, N.C. — It figured to be the pitching matchup of the year in the Colonial Athletic Association, and the showdown between Hofstra’s John Rooney and Elon’s Kyle Brnovich certainly lived up to that billing. In fact, it was the best pitching duel I’ve seen all year.

Brnovich, a sophomore righthander, entered the contest as the national strikeout leader (85), while Rooney was second in the CAA (63). Rooney, a junior lefty, was leading the conference in ERA (1.29, 14th-best in the country), while Brnovich ranked second (1.51). Rooney had allowed just 4.04 hits per nine innings (best in the CAA and fourth-best in the country), while Brnovich had allowed 5.2 hits per game (second in the CAA and 19th in the country). Any way you sliced the numbers, this was a marquee matchup.

The two aces battled toe-to-toe for seven compelling innings. Brnovich added to his insane punchout total with 12 more strikeouts over seven innings of two-hit, one-run ball, but he exited trailing 1-0. Rooney struck out eight over seven innings of five-hit, shutout ball, and he was in line for the win until the Phoenix scored twice in the eighth against Hofstra shutdown closer Chris Weiss to win 2-1.

“These are the best starts, when you get to face everyone else’s best guy,” Brnovich said. “With (College of Charleston’s Evan) Sisk two weekends ago, it’s fun, because you get to go out there and compete not only with the hitters but with the other pitchers, it makes you mature. It really makes you absolutely compete and be the best you can be. (Rooney) threw a great game, and it was fun to compete against him.”

“I’ve been keeping track of Brnovich, I was pumped to be here,” Rooney said.

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