With a newly-solidified pitching staff to match their potent offense, the Lions are a force to be reckoned with.
“They have done a better job of throwing strikes and getting ahead of hitters,” head coach Dean Glus said. “Once they get ahead, they are in control instead of the other way around.”
The Lions have been in control of late, tallying eight consecutive wins and rising to second place in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) with a record of 19-13-1. During the win streak, Lions pitchers averaged just over five runs per game as the Lions offense continued to punish opponents. Scoring more than eight runs in seven of eight games, the Lions bats maintained their heat led by senior shortstop Jeff Toth and junior outfielder Chris Esperon.
“Our approach at the plate has been a huge factor in our recent success,” Esperon said. “We’re working the count and waiting on good pitches to hit instead of swinging at the first strike.”
The College exerted their dominance on Saturday, as the home crowd watched the Lions pummel William Paterson University 13-5, 11-5 in a doubleheader at George Ackerman Park.
In game one, freshman infielder James Ruzich posted a strong showing with four hits and three RBIs including a two-run game-winning homerun in the bottom of the seventh inning. Also performing well were freshman catcher Mike Galeotafiore and sophomore outfielder Anthony Palmiotto. Each added two hits and an RBI each.
Senior pitcher Dan Ramos-Dominko allowed four runs over six innings but it was sophomore Joe Marchitelli who took the win with 1.2 innings of work, his third of the season.
In the night cap of the twin bill, the Lions flexed their muscles again as Esperon connected for his fourth homerun of the season while senior second baseman Adam Tussey added his first four bagger of the year.
The Lions waited again until the later innings to dethrone their opponents, tacking on eight runs in the eighth inning to give senior reliever Pat Johnson his second win after junior Sean Stewart worked seven innings for the no decision.
The Lions’ hurlers shined last Wednesday, stifling the Profs of Rowan University 9-2 on the road. Sophomore ace Connor Henderson ascended to 5-0 on the year as he fooled his opponents for a complete game eight-hit victory. Toth added three hits in the win.
Commenting on the team’s play,
Esperon said, “The pitching has been great and when you’re starting
pitching and bullpen is throwing as well as our pitching staff is it gives everyone confidence.”
Following their decisive win against rival Rowan, the College managed to squeeze past Richard Stockton College 6-5 last Thursday. The Lions led throughout the game on the strength of seven Osprey errors but a four-run surge in the ninth brought the score to within one. Senior pitcher Eric Gertie bared down for the close win.
To conclude their busy schedule, the Lions split a doubleheader against Montclair State University on Sunday, winning the first game 8-7 and getting throttled in the second, 15-6. James Ruzich cracked his second homer of the season in game one but a potent Red Hawk lineup outdid the Lions in game two.
With only a handful of games remaining before the NJAC playoffs, the Lions are still taking things as they come.
“We are taking one pitch, one out and one inning at a time,” Glus said. “Because we didn’t have a great start to our season, they know where we were before and where we can drop to so they keep the same enthusiasm.”
Bobby Olivier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.