College starts season off strong; Murphy’s bat leads Lions offense

The College’s baseball team completed a very successful spring trip, going 8-2 in Arizona behind some stellar offensive play.

The Lions have had great success through the early part of their schedule, as the team has averaged eight runs per game as a team to this point. The most impressive part of the team’s scoring prowess, however, is that they have been producing so well offensively without hitting a single home run.

“The offense so far this year has been great,” sophomore pitcher Robert Graber said. “It has been a combination of timely hitting and executing small ball that has allowed our offense to be successful. When the offense is producing as well as it did in Arizona it allows the pitchers to pitch with a lead and attack hitters.”

The team’s offense put on a show on back-to-back days against Rockford College and Wesleyan University, when the team put up 10 runs against the Regents and 11 against the Cardinals.

The offense has been led by sophomore outfielder Michael Murphy, who through the team’s first nine games was hitting .500 with 10 RBI. Sophomore infielder Scott Kelly is second on the team both in RBI with seven (which he shares with three other players) and batting average at .421.

The pitching has been good as well, especially the relievers. While the starting pitchers have an average ERA of 5.20, the relievers have picked up the slack, posting an average ERA of .88.

Although there are only five seniors on the roster, they have served as mentors to a young team.

“Even though we have a young team the leadership still comes from our five seniors,” Graber said. “Connor Henderson, Sean Stewart, Joe Marchitelli, Jason Zegarski and Anthony Palmiotto are all experienced and demonstrate to the underclassmen the way New Jersey baseball should be played. Their leadership is a major component to our success thus far.”

The team played teams from many different locales on their trip, as there were teams appearing from everywhere from New England to Minnesota, but the players are now looking forward to getting back on the diamond at the College and playing at Ackerman Park again.

“It’s always nice playing out in Arizona where it’s 85 and sunny, but we are looking forward to playing in front of a home crowd again,” Graber said. “Last year we were 11-3 at home, so there is definitely a great amount of confidence when we play at Ackerman Park.”

When the team gets home they will look to keep on executing and performing well in late-game situations and hope that their swagger from Arizona will carry on to the rest of the season.

“Our ability to execute in important situations has greatly contributed to the team’s success so far,” Graber said. “Both pitchers and hitters are performing their respective responsibilities that we have been practicing since the end of January. When this happens, we are a tough team to beat.”