Winning four of five games this week, the Lions improved their record to 16-7 on the season and 4-3 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC).
After beginning the season ranked No. 4 in the American Baseball Coaches Association national poll, the Lions have fallen to No. 13, suffering a few more defeats than anticipated.
“It seems like the last two years we got all the breaks,” senior catcher Gerard Haran said. “This year, we have not gotten some of those games that could have gone either way. It seems like our luck has not been as good.”
For at least one game, that luck may have changed as Haran drove in the game-winning run over Arcadia University, 4-3, after being hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Senior infielder Matt Zonies began the bottom of the ninth with a single to left field. A bunt by junior center fielder Dave Mebs and an intentional walk loaded the bases for the Lions. With one out, Haran worked the count to 3-2 before getting hit by a pitch and allowing Mebs to score the game-ending run.
“They had a lot of guts there; with the count 3-2 and the bases loaded he threw a curveball,” Haran said. “Sometimes when you gamble and roll the dice like that it does not work out for you. The truth is if he does not hit me, he has me locked up so I guess I got a little lucky.”
The Lions relinquished a 3-1 lead in the top of the ninth inning. The Knights rallied with back-to-back RBIs, tying the game at three and sending the game to the bottom of the ninth inning.
Senior outfielder Jeff Botti went 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored. He also stole five bases for the Lions in the winning effort.
Junior pitcher Brad Kittle threw seven innings in the Lions’ win, allowing only five hits and one run.
The Lions took both games in Saturday’s NJAC doubleheader against New Jersey City University.
Junior pitcher Mike Oliver led the Lions to a 7-0 win over the Gothic Knights in the second game. Oliver improved to 2-0 after pitching a complete game shutout, allowing two hits and striking out 10. Gothic Knights runners could not reach past second base throughout the game.
The bats cooled off during the second game as the Lions earned seven hits. It took until the fourth inning for the Lions to get on the board with the help of two fielding errors.
Sophomore shortstop Jeff Toth paced the team by going 2-for-4 with one run and an RBI. Junior cather Bill Kropp went 1-for-3 and added two RBIs.
Taking game one by a score of 12-1, the Lions dominated offensively. With a total of 13 hits, eight Lions batters were able to earn at least one hit. The Lions also scored at least one run in all but two innings.
Bullis went 3-for-6 with three RBIs and one run while Toth added three hits and two runs of his own.
Junior pitcher Bob Buskett improved to 3-0 on the season. In eight innings of work he allowed one earned run and six hits, turning away seven without walking any batters.
On Friday, the College fell 6-4 to Rowan University in an extra-inning NJAC contest.
The Lions tied the game at four in the eighth inning after trailing by two. Zonies got the rally going again, reaching base on a single.
“I knew that I did not need anything more than a single,” Zonies said. “He threw me a fastball inside. I just tried to put the bat on it and it squirted through there.”
Mebs doubled, pushing both runners into scoring position. Zonies scored off an error and Mebs crossed the plate on a sacrifice fly.
The game continued into the 10th inning when the Profs scored two runs off three hits to pull ahead for good.
“I thought both teams played well. They got a little blooper that went over the second baseman’s head,” Zonies said. “The same thing could have happened either way, but they just happened to come out on top.”
Haran hit a solo home run in the sixth inning, extending his team home run record to 41. He has six on the season.
On Thursday, the College put down Richard Stockton College 7-4 in another conference victory.
Senior pitcher Blake Ortiz took control of the game for the Lions, striking out 11 of 32 batters. Ortiz picked up the win, allowing three runs in eight innings of work.
The Lions offense came alive in the second inning, scoring three runs off four hits. Senior infielder Andrew Cosgrove, Haran, Bullis and Mebs all singled in the inning.
Duplicating their second inning performance, the Lions scored another three runs off four hits in the fourth, extending their lead to 6-1.
Botti went 4-for-4 with an RBI and two doubles to lead the Lions at the plate.
Lions baseball continues on Thursday in a home conference matchup against Rutgers University-Camden at 3:30 p.m.