The College defeated Wilmington College 8-7 on Sunday behind the late-inning heroics of senior designated hitter Brian Hickey. The Lions improved to 10-3 on the season by overcoming a 7-1 deficit and winning in extra innings.
The team completed its improbable comeback in the bottom of the 10th inning. Freshman catcher Gerard Haran led the inning off with a single, after which senior left fielder Bryan Flynn and sophomore shortstop Richard Kropp reached base on bunts to load the bases with no outs.
Hickey, who had tied the game in his last at bat, lined a single to left field to plate the game’s winning run.
“Those are really the reasons that we play,” Hickey said.
The Wilmington Wildcats got off to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, only to see the Lions answer right back with a run of their own in the inning’s bottom half.
Wilmington, however, scored twice more in the second inning, and forced freshman starting pitcher Brian Kraus out of the game in the third. Kraus pitched two plus innings, allowing three runs to score off seven hits and one walk.
Wilmington’s bats were at their best in the fifth inning. Three hits, one walk and a sacrifice fly off of sophomore reliever Joe D’Alessandro, in addition to a wild pitch and one error, allowed the Wildcats to score four more runs and increase their lead to six.
The inning came to an end when Lions freshman third baseman Blake Bullis made a diving stop near the third-base line and quickly threw over to first base for the out.
The defensive gem prevented at least one more run from scoring and would prove to be one of the main reasons the Lions were victorious.
D’Alessandro put in four innings of work, letting in four runs on four hits and four walks, with two strikeouts.
The College found itself trailing 7-1 at the game’s midpoint.
“I don’t think I questioned so much our ability to battle back,” head coach Rick Dell said. “Being six up or six down means absolutely nothing. I told them they didn’t need to get all six at once.”
Dell’s players listened, and added three runs in the sixth inning and three more in the eighth.
In the sixth, the Lions knocked opposing sophomore starting pitcher Bret Urban out of the game when they got four hits before recording an out.
Urban finished the day with five plus innings pitched, and four runs, nine hits and one walk allowed.
Two innings later, Flynn brought the Lions within one run of the Wildcats, when his two-out single drove in two runs. Hickey then continued the rally with the game-tying RBI single.
With the game tied and the momentum completely in their favor, the College turned the ball over to its star senior closer, Julius Jenkins.
Jenkins threw two perfect innings, striking out all six batters faced.
“I felt comfortable out there,” Jenkins said. “I had command of my pitches and I was hitting spots.”
When asked if he felt like he could have pitched more if his team did not score to end the game in the 10th inning, Jenkins simply said, “Anything for a win.”
The win marked the first decision of the season for the closer, as Jenkins is now 1-0 with a still-flawless ERA of 0.00.
Flynn, Hickey and sophomore center fielder Chris Wilson led the Lions’ hitting attack, as each went 3-5 with two RBI.
Sunday’s win ended a two-game losing streak for the Lions, who had been struggling after starting the season 9-1. The team’s last loss came on Wednesday, when they fell by the score of 5-2 to Gwynedd-Mercy College.