In a week that was a make-or-break situation for the College’s baseball team, the Lions took three out of four games in NJAC play to advance through the standings.
The team set the pace for their four-game weekend swing with a convincing 10-7 win over Rutgers University-Camden on Thursday, April 16.
The Lions jumped out to an early lead with a six-run second inning, which put them up 7-2 over the Scarlet Raptors.
Junior right fielder Mike Murphy went 3-5 for the day with three RBI, bringing a recent cold skid to a halt.
“Today I just saw the ball deep, was hitting fastballs, so I felt good today, finally,” Murphy said. “About time.”
The win was dominant all around for the Lions, with seven of the nine batters notching an RBI in the game. Senior first baseman Jimmy Ruzich knocked in two runs on 1-3 hitting, while junior second baseman Scott Kelly went 1-2 with three walks, an RBI and a stolen base.
Kelly, however, made the play of the game on defense when he snagged a hard-hit ball on a line drive and turned it into a double play to end a near-disastrous five-run inning for the Scarlet Raptors.
“Luckily I took enough steps where I could make a play on (the hit),” Kelly said. “That’s what I’ve been doing, I try to put myself in a position based on where the pitch is supposed to go for me to make a play, and thank God I was in the right place at the right time.”
A conference at the mound after the fifth Rutgers run crossed the plate helped calm down sophomore pitcher Brian O’Connell, allowing him to pitch the College out of the inning.
“We knew we were OK,” Kelly said. “That’s what we wanted to tell the pitcher, you know, that we’re alright, just get a ground ball. Turning double plays, that’s a rally killer, and that’s what we want the pitchers to do.”
That first win sent the Lions into a very successful weekend against the NJAC, where they took three of four games — one more from Rutgers-Camden on the road and one of two against William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J.
The doubleheader against Paterson on Saturday brought not just a very important NJAC win for the Lions, but also a milestone for senior catcher Mike Galeotafiore, who slapped his 200th hit in the first game against Paterson.
Galeotafiore is one of only nine players in College history to reach the 200-hit plateau, and at his torrid pace of .425 since returning from the team’s spring trip, he has a chance to take the all-time mark of 238 set by ’07 alum Gerard Haran.
Galeotafiore realized that he was close to the milestone, but it was only once he stopped focusing on it that he was able to get his bat going.
“I cleared my head when I got back to Jersey, and just started having fun,” Galeotafiore said. “When that moment hit me that I realized it’s my senior year, and there’s nothing else left from a competitive baseball playing perspective after this, I immediately began focusing on having fun and doing the best I can. I figured all the cards would fall into place if I did that.”
Through it all, it was always about the team’s success to Galeotafiore and not any individual records.
“I just really wanted to be as consistent as possible in my four years here,” Galeotafiore said. “I had no real individual goal to one day collect 200 hits, although I knew if I wanted to reach our team goals of making it to regionals and winning the whole thing, that over time those hits would have to add up at some point. But all in all, I’m just grateful for everything the game of baseball has given me. I try to put my heart and soul into every workout, practice and game, so that these sorts of feats become realities.”
Galeotafiore is also one double away from tying the College record for doubles with 58 (also held by Haran), a number that he will likely break before the end of the season. The doubles record was one he set out to reach, since he’s not much of a power hitter.
“The doubles record is a goal I set out for myself to reach since freshman year,” Galeotafiore said. “I knew there was zero shot of me hitting 10 home runs, nevermind 50!”