While a late winter storm blew over New Jersey, the College’s baseball team battled the heat in Phoenix on its way to an 8-3 record during its spring training visit to Arizona.
The trip out west saw the No. 4 ranked Lions outscore their opponents 115-71 and tally double-digit run totals on six different occasions.
Opening up the season with a shutout, the Lions trounced the Wartburg College Knights by a score of 14-0. Senior catcher Gerard Haran slammed his first home run of the season in the second inning, extending his school record to a total of 36 home runs.
Senior pitcher Brian Kraus picked up the win on the mound, allowing only four hits during his six-inning clean sheet.
On March 12, the Lions pulled off a 4-3-6-2 triple play against the Alvernia College Crusaders to end the game for a 15-9 victory.
With the bases loaded and no outs in the top of the ninth, the batter lined out to the Lions second baseman, who then threw the ball to first to turn the double play. The ball was dropped at first but the first baseman recovered, threw the ball back to second and managed to get the runner out there. The runner on third headed home and was thrown out to end the game.
Junior outfielder Dave Mebs had four RBIs and two runs scored.
Senior pitcher Brian Kraus went more than five innings in the no-decision and was named New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Pitcher of the Week.
Two losses during the trip came at the hands of No. 2 ranked Wheaton College. After 11 innings on Sunday, the Lions were edged by the Thunder 8-7. Senior left fielder PJ Anzelone walked with the bases loaded in the top of the ninth to score the tying run, sending the game into extra innings.
After the Lions scored the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th inning, the game was moved to a field with lights on account of darkness. Wheaton took advantage of the switch, scoring two runs in the bottom of the inning to clinch the game.
On March 16, in a game that saw 36 runs scored, the Lions fell to Wheaton 23-13. After leading 3-2 going into the top of the fourth, the Lions surrendered four runs to relinquish the lead. Another 13 runs by Wheaton over the next two innings put the game out of reach.
On Saturday, the Lions outlasted the Keene State College Owls 8-7 through 12 innings of play. With the game tied at seven in the bottom of the 12th, senior outfielder Jeff Botti led off with a single to right field. Later in the inning, Keene called upon freshman pitcher Mike Riley with the bases loaded and two outs. The first pitch was a passed ball, allowing Botti to score and seal the game.
Senior pitcher Bill Opel earned the victory, giving up just four hits and a pair of runs.
Against Macalester College, junior pitcher Brad Kittle took the loss after five innings, surrendering four earned runs off 10 hits. Macalester senior pitcher Ted Kimble subdued the Lions through nine straight innings, allowing only eight hits and two earned runs. Senior second baseman Andrew Cosgrove knocked his first home run of the season in the losing effort.
Squeaking by Johns Hopkins University 5-4 on Wednesday, Anzelone scored the winning run to give the Lions the win.
With the game tied at four, Anzelone led off the top of the ninth with a single. Anzelone scored when Mebs singled to left field after advancing to third via a sacrifice bunt and ground out.
The Lions posted another victory on March 12 as they bested Denison University 17-4.
Junior shortstop Jeff Toth’s pair of three-run home runs paced the Lions against Denison. Haran and senior first baseman Blake Bullis each added three RBIs in another impressive display of the Lions offense.
Junior pitcher Mike Oliver was awarded the win after five innings and seven strikeouts.
One of the Lions’ most decisive victories came against Keystone College in a 16-3 win last Saturday. Scoring six runs during the top of the fifth inning, the Lions took control as they pushed the score to 10-2.
Scoring 16 runs from 20 hits, the Lions were efficient in their offensive explosion. Anzelone and junior first baseman Bill Kropp each tallied a team-high four RBIs. Anzelone went 4-for-5 at the plate while Kropp was 2-for-5.
The Lions also picked up victories against Springfield College 8-5 and the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse 10-0.
Ranked No. 4 in the nation among Division III schools, the Lions are the favorite to win the NJAC Championship and should contend for the National Championship this year.
The Lions will begin a three-game homestand, starting with Ursinus College on Thursday at 3 p.m.