The College’s baseball team made its triumphant return home on March 17 against Ursinus College, and the team brought back its hot streak from spring break in Arizona, winning 8-0.
“It’s always good to win the first game at home,” head coach Dean Glus said. “Ursinus has beaten us twice in the last two years, so we wanted to win at home today, and the guys did a nice job to win our first home game.”
Senior pitcher Connor Henderson threw an eight-inning shutout, blanking Ursinus and holding them to only six hits, while giving up only four walks over the course of the game.
“(I was) just trying to get ahead of batters,” Henderson said. “I knew that they’re not one of the strongest hitting teams, so the plan was just to go right at them. I fell behind on a few guys, but for the most part, I think just throwing strikes early in the count helped.”
The team was efficient on the scoring end as well, led by two-RBI efforts by sophomore third baseman Nick Cifelli and sophomore outfielder Mike Murphy.
Murphy is currently leading the team with 15 RBI and credits his and the team’s hot hitting to good mechanics and strategy at the plate.
“I just sit on the middle back side,” Murphy said. “Try to hit everything to right field. If I see a fastball, I just try to hit it early in the count. That’s pretty much it, just hit fastballs and get ahead.”
Murphy played a big role in the field as well, with a huge outfield-assist double play in the fourth inning that kept Henderson’s scoreless game intact.
“Connor was throwing his heart out, so you just want to be there no matter what,” Murphy said. “In your head, as an outfielder, all the time you’re thinking, ‘when a ball goes up in the air, just get ready to throw.’ I was coming in, it was hit hard, I had a lot of momentum coming through it, and I knew if I hit Jimmy (Ruzich) in the chest he would hit Michael (Galeotafiore) in the chest, and it just kind of clicked that one play. It worked out good for us.”
Henderson came very close to a complete game, pitching strongly throughout.
Although he was pulled in the final inning, he understands Glus’ decision.
“Of course I (wanted the complete game),” Henderson said. “But, you know, I understand why coach pulled me. After some time it was definitely the right call.”
Overall, the team is just happy to be back home in Ewing after a very successful spring trip.
“It’s awesome to be back. (It was a) big 10 games out in Arizona, it’s always fun out there,” Murphy said. “It’s good to come back, though, play in front of a lot of people, a lot of parents, friends, relatives, all that. Just make a name for our program right away, put our name on the map.”
The team won its next two games as well, beating Haverford College 8-1 behind a strong pitching performance by sophomore Robert Graber.
The team then beat Elizabethtown College 14-8 in a game that saw the team collect 17 total hits.
Although these non-conference wins help, they are all just working up to the Lions’ difficult in-conference schedule, as the NJAC is one of the top conferences in the country.
“Conference is one thing, nonconference is something else. What we’re working for now is to get better each game to get into the best baseball conference there is in the country,” Glus said. “If we play our game and do things we’re supposed to do, then we’ll be right there in the running at the end of the year in the conference.”