After two weeks which showcased surges of power and nine wins in 10 games, the Lions took a step in the wrong direction at the wrong time.
The Lions finished their regular season on a three-game losing streak, ending their year with a record of 20-16-1 en route to the opening round of the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) tournament beginning this week.
Besides not getting the big hit, we gave up big innings in each of the losses,” junior outfielder Chris Esperon said. “If we minimized damage and didn’t give up as many runs, the outcome of those games would be different.”
The College hosted NJAC rival Kean University in a doubleheader at George Ackerman Park on Saturday, but were unable to hold off the Cougars in either game of the twin bill.
In game one, a pair of doubles by senior infielder Ryan Anzelone and freshman catcher Mike Galeotafiore gave the Lions an early 2-0 lead and senior shortstop Jeff Toth’s eighth homerun of the season increased the lead to three. The Lions would gain another run but Cougars erased the deficit and pounced in the sixth, tallying nine runs in the inning for the 9-7 victory. Sophomore Connor Henderson had pitched five scoreless innings until things unraveled in the sixth as he recorded his first loss of the season.
Following their lackluster matinee, the night cap did not bode well for the Lions either as they were edged out again by a score of 5-4.
The College trailed for the entirety of the game as Kean jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the second. The lead grew to 5-1 before the Lions answered back, plating two runs in the seventh on a Toth RBI single and Kean error at third base. The Lions crept back in the eighth, scoring another on a sophomore outfielder Anthony Palmiotto groundout to make the score 5-4.
Threatening with base runners in the ninth, the College was shut down by Kean senior reliever Pedro Rivera, securing in the win for the Cougars. Senior pitcher Sean Stewart allowed five runs over seven innings in the loss.
Following the doubleheader, senior pitcher Dan Ramos-Dominko said, “Even though we have been hitting some bumps on our way to playoffs I still believe we have been playing well. Our hitters and pitchers have done a great job, but sometimes the game just doesn’t turn out the way you would expect it to.”
One day prior to their double loss to Kean, the Lions were unable to match Ramos-Dominko’s strong outing as they fell to the Roadrunners of Ramapo College 3-0 on the road. Ramos-Dominko struck out an impressive 10 batters over eight innings for the College but a lack of offense could not gain him the victory. Toth, Anzelone and senior second baseman Adam Tussey each finished with multiple-hit games but the Lions were unable to score a single run against junior Mike Murano who threw a complete game shutout in the win.
The Lions now look ahead to start fresh in the NJAC playoffs at William Paterson University on Tuesday and appear to be optimistic about their chances.
“We stay positive by knowing that we can play our best baseball of the year in the playoffs and win the conference tournament. There’s still time left for us to make our mark and make a run in the post season,” Esperon said. “Our team is resilient and know that these upcoming games are going to the biggest of our season and we’re definitely prepared to play our A-game come playoffs.”