Lions drop doubleheader to Cougars

The baseball team went 4-2 last week, dropping two in a doubleheader against Kean University and picking up wins against William Paterson University, Neumann College, Gwynedd-Mercy College and Johns Hopkins University.

Slipping to No. 13 in the latest American Baseball Coaches Association Division III poll, the Lions are 11-6 overall and 1-2 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC).

“We do not even bother with standings; they do not matter to us at all,” senior catcher Gerard Haran said. “We were No. 1 most of last year and I would trade all those rankings to get back to the where we were in the postseason.”

On Saturday, the Lions fell 7-0 and 4-2 to the No. 7 ranked Cougars of Kean University in a home doubleheader NJAC matchup. Those were the first two conference losses for the Lions in the young season.

In the first game, Cougar senior pitcher Joseph Augustine threw a complete game shutout against the Lions, giving up only three hits and striking out seven.

“He had good off-speed stuff,” sophomore pitcher Eric Gertie said. “He changed his speeds, hit spots and just kept us off balance all day.”

Haran, senior first baseman Blake Bullis and senior third baseman Matt Zonies were the only Lions able to get a hit.

Kean put two runs on the board during the top of the second inning and never looked back. Senior shortstop Perry Schatzow led the offense for the Cougars, going 2-for-4 with two runs and one RBI.

Senior pitcher Brian Kraus took the loss on the mound for the Lions after 5-1/3 innings of work and three earned runs off seven hits.

The second game saw Kean pull away 3-1 in the top of the sixth inning when junior outfielder Eric Ammirata and senior first baseman Eric Richard drove in one run each. Richard broke Kean’s career hit record during the game, placing the new mark at 196 hits.

Senior pitcher Blake Ortiz suffered his first loss of the season after seven innings and giving up three earned runs off eight hits. He is now 2-1 on the year.

“You have to give Kean the credit that they deserve; they are a great ball club with a lot of talent,” Haran said. “We just got outplayed today; we got beat in every facet of the game. Bottom line is that they are a great team, and we cannot keep playing the way we are playing against teams like that. We have as much talent as everyone else. It is just not translating into wins. I think that if we stick with it, keep working hard, we will be alright. We have to play better and we know that.”

The Lions opened up NJAC play on the road with a tight 7-6 win over William Paterson on Thursday.

The Pioneers jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first inning, but with a key hit from senior outfielder Jeff Botti the Lions came roaring back. In the top of the eighth inning Botti produced a game-tying single to score Haran and even the score at five.

In the top of the ninth, Haran knocked a two-RBI single into left field to give the Lions the lead for good. Haran finished the game going 4-for-5 at the plate with two runs scored and three RBIs.

Senior pitcher Dave Waseleski picked up the win in relief of junior pitcher Mike Oliver. Waseleski put in 4-2/3 innings of work, allowing one run off three hits, and Oliver went 4-1/3 innings with two earned runs off eight hits.

The Lions blasted Neumann 17-3 last Tuesday in a game that saw the Lions get 14 hits and 11 RBIs.

Both Haran and junior short stop Jeff Toth connected for solo home runs. With his home run, Haran extended his College record to 40.

In the top of the ninth, the Lions poured on seven more runs with only two hits.

Junior pitcher Nick Amable earned his first win of the season for the Lions. He pitched 5-1/3 innings and allowed two earned runs.

The Lions offense continued to roll on March 28 when they picked up a decisive 14-7 victory over the Griffins of Gwynedd-Mercy. Leading the offensive effort for the Lions were senior second baseman Andrew Cosgrove and senior left fielder PJ Anzelone. Cosgrove pounded a two-run home run out of the park in the third inning while Anzelone hit his own home run in the sixth, driving in three runs.

Junior Bob Buskett earned his first win of the season on the mound for the Lions. He pitched for 5-1/3 innings and allowed three earned runs off of five hits.

The Lions defeated No. 19 ranked Johns Hopkins University 8-2 on Monday.

After leading 1-0 going into the fifth inning, the Lions offense broke out for five runs off three hits.

Botti added his first home run of the season in the eighth inning, pushing the Lions’ lead to 8-0. He finished the game 3-for-4 with three runs scored and two RBIs.

Buskett picked up the win on the mound for the Lions after pitching seven scoreless innings, yielding only three hits with three strikeouts. He is 2-0 on the season.

“It is tough right now because I feel like we are not playing to our full potential,” Bullis said. “But we are playing around with the positions and the lineup, changing up a few things. We are getting into the NJAC games now and I think we will be fine.”

The Lions’ next game will be a conference game against Richard Stockton College on Thursday at 3:30 p.m.