Following two losses to kick off the month of April, the College’s baseball team tallied two wins in an away doubleheader against Ramapo College on Saturday.
“The sweep of Ramapo was huge for us,” senior outfielder Chris Esperon said. “We showed a lot of heart going up there and taking two games from them. The pitching was nothing short of amazing and that really helped us get those two wins.”
Esperon drove in three runs and scored four more in the Lions’ 14-2 rout of the Roadrunners in the first game of the double dip.
The Lions (8-10) grabbed 10 runs in the fourth inning behind a stellar performance on the mound from Greg Spatz. The senior held Ramapo’s batters to only two runs (one earned) on two hits over eight innings, while striking out six.
Also chipping in offensively for game one were senior infielder Ryan Anzelone who claimed two hits and two RBIs, as well as sophomore outfielder Ed Zakzrewski and freshman infielder Scott Kelly who each contributed multiple hits.
The night cap was a much closer contest, as it would take 11 innings for the Lions to best the Roadrunners, 4-1. Freshman pitcher Robert Graber allowed only one run over seven innings, but did not factor into the decision as the Lions’ offense could not produce more than a run of its own on an Esperon RBI-single.
In the top of the 11th inning, three walks, a hit batsman, two passed balls and a ground out gave the Lions a 4-1 lead, which junior reliever Joe Marchitelli maintained to grab his first win of the season.
“Anytime you take two games from a good conference team, it feels good,” head coach Dean Glus said. “I believe we learned in that game, that we are a good team and we have each others backs.”
“The two wins on Saturday against Ramapo were huge for us to finish the week on a good note,” Spatz said. “As a starting pitcher it’s tough to watch some games from the dugout helplessly so when I got my opportunity to help the team and succeeded, it was very satisfying for all of us.”
This doubleheader sweep could not have come sooner, as late-inning mistakes and an explosive first inning gave the College two losses to Rowan University and Rutgers University-Camden on Thursday and Friday.
A wild pitch in the 12th inning against the Profs erased a strong performance by junior pitcher Connor Henderson, as the Lions fell 3-2. Adversely, the College’s game against Rutgers-Camden was decided right away, as a nine-run first inning sunk the Lions in a 13-8 defeat.
“It was a good game against Rowan and it was tough to lose that game in the 12th but we learned a lot from that game and we will use that to our advantage during the remaining part of the year,” Glus said. “The game on Friday was tough but we got down 9-0 and we
fought back to make it a close game.”
Continuing through the meat of the season, Glus is not fearful that the team will stray from its recent winning ways.
“It’s not difficult at all to stay focused,” he said. “Our players train for this. We start training in September for the season and they understand that it takes 100 percent focus at all times to be ready to play. The team has develop goals for the season and to reach those goals, you need to be ready 100 percent of the time.”
Spatz agreed with his coach.
“After tallying just under 20 games and getting into conference play I feel it’s actually a bit easier to stay focused,” he said. “The NJAC is full of tough teams so we know that each game will be a battle and we prepare for this accordingly. Our preparation keeps us focused because we know we work hard each day to compete and we always believe we can win every game.”
Esperon added, “If we play like we did at Ramapo I have nothing but confidence that we’re going to be just fine. We’re playing great defense which helps us win games, the pitchers both in the bullpen and the starters are starting to pick it up, and the hitting is coming along nicely. We were in this situation last year so we know as a team what it takes to finish strong and how to win games.”