NORWICH, Conn. --  Sacred Heart repeated as Northeast Conference champions, as the Pioneers defended their title with a 5-1 win against Monmouth on Saturday afternoon in the NEC Championship.

In a season full of ups and downs, one in which the Pioneers started 1-9, SHU finished 2012 on top with the third NEC Championship win in program history. As the NEC Champions, Sacred Heart will play in the NCAA tournament, earning the league's automatic bid.

Troy Scribner, Nick Leiningen, Kody Kerski, and John Murphy all made the NEC All-Tournament team, and Scribner was named MVP of the tournament. Like last year, Scribner, Leiningen, and Kerski all pitched complete-game victories, while Murphy went 5-10 with four RBIs and two runs.

Sacred Heart took an early lead, scoring three times in the second.  Derick Horn crushed a two-run double to right-centerfield to put the Pioneers on top first. Scribner followed by roping a single to right field to score Horn from second, but was thrown out at first by Jamie Rosenkranz after rounding the bag too wide. Dan Perez made it 4-0 in the third, slicing a double down the left-field line to score Murphy, who was attempting to steal second on the pitch.

In the fourth, Monmouth loaded the bases with nobody out, but Kerski claimed back the momentum, getting out of the inning without surrendering a run. Danny Avella hit an infield fly for the first out, and Owen Stewart hit into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.

Conor McEvoy drove in another with his second hit of the game, and RBI infield single up-the-middle. Ed Martin brought in Monmouth's only run with an RBI fielder's choice in the seventh.

Kerski pitched a scoreless eighth and retired the side in order in the ninth. When pinch-hitter Craig Sweeny's foul pop landed in the glove of Phillips to end the game, the Pioneers once again found themselves in another dog pile in the middle of Dodd Stadium, where they swept the NEC Tournament for the second straight year.