.500 week highlighted by milestone

No pitcher wants to give up a run in the first inning. It adds pressure and discomfort when facing future hitters. But when a pitcher can weather the storm and put together a gem, it makes it all better.

Kelly collects his 200th career hit in the win over St. Joe’s. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

That’s exactly what freshman pitcher Evan Edelman did after allowing a first inning run, pitching a complete game and allowing only one run on five hits while striking out seven batters. This was all in the College’s 14-1 blowout over St. Joseph’s College-Long Island. Edelman received plenty of support from his teammates, both on the scoreboard in the form of 14 runs and in the dugout with the constant chants of two six (26, Edelman’s number) serenading the young pitcher, who was in a groove.

“I figured out what I should do to get the guys out,” Edelman said. “Today, I didn’t have great stuff, but I could locate, so it worked out.”

After the two squads exchanged one-two-three innings, the Lions (13-13, 5-4) got things going in the bottom of the third. Freshman outfielder Mark Mari got on with a walk and senior second baseman Scott Kelly smacked a double out to left field, scoring Mari and tying the game. Kelly then stole third, and when an attempt to get him out at third went wild, he trotted home to score the go-ahead run.

“It was the second time around we were seeing that (pitcher) and we weren’t getting good swings on the ball the first time around, so when we saw him again, we started getting good, hard swings,” Kelly said. “Me or anybody else, every other day seems to start the fire. It was me today, but tomorrow it will be somebody else.”

Using the concept of small ball, the College was able to manufacture some runs in the bottom half of the inning. Freshman catcher Garen Turner led off with a single to right field, and after a walk for freshman outfielder Patrick Roberts, Turner stole third. A base hit by sophomore third baseman Mike Murray drove Turner home, and an infield single by Mari loaded the bases. A walk by junior Joe Dispoto brought in another run and a sac fly by Limon put the score at 5-1.

“Coach preaches the little things all the time,” Kelly said. “One thing he stresses a lot is getting those little things started, because little things turn into big things, and big things turn into big runs and big innings. That’s what we needed to do and I’m glad we got that done today.”

Extra base hits for Roberts, Kelly, and Dispoto led to another four runs to make the score 9-1. This included Kelly’s 200th hit of his career..

“It just means I played too much,” Kelly joked. “As long as we keep getting W’s, that’s all that counts.”

Freshman outfielder Peter Kennedy also got his first career hit with an RBI double, while fellow freshman outfielder J. C. Rizzi knocked in the 14th and final run.

In a home and home against William Paterson University, with the second game being postponed due to rain, the Lions struggled to get anything going offensively, losing 4-2.

In the first game, played at the College, Pioneers’ pitcher Tim O’Shea held the Lions hitless for 6 1/3 innings. It was an odd occurrence, because despite having no hits, the College took a 2-0 lead in the first inning after Kelly and Limon got on base with walks, advanced on a wild throw and scored on an error.

A home run by William Paterson got the Pioneers on the board in the top of the second, and they took a 4-2 lead that would not be lost after scoring three runs in the top of the fifth.

The Lions were able to get on base patiently by getting 10 walks, but in addition to that, they only had one hit the entire game, with Dispoto getting it in the bottom of the eighth.

Rounding out the week with a doubleheader against Ramapo College, the Lions split the pair against the No. 14 Roadrunners, winning the first game 6-4 and dropping the second game 7-2.

Junior pitcher Brendan Kelly got the win for the Lions, going eight strong and giving up four earned runs while striking out six.

Once again, the concept of small ball was in effect, with sophomore infielder Jake DeWitt drove home Murphy with a squeeze bunt. Ramapo responded with a run of their own, but DeWitt was back at it in the fourth with a ground ball to second bringing in a score. Turner trotted home on a wild pitch to make it 3-1.

In the fifth inning, a single by Limon drove in a run, while more sloppy fielding by the Roadrunners got Murphy home again, giving the College the go-ahead fifth run.

A sac fly by Cocuzza in the sixth brought Mari home for the team’s sixth and final run. While Ramapo mustered two more runs, the College was able to hold on.

The second game had to have had the Lions feeling uncomfortable, as they were feeling the heat from both the weather and the Roadrunners. After giving up three runs, freshman pitcher Steve Volpe had to leave the game due to an injury. An infield single by Limon in the bottom half of the first got Kelly home, narrowing the deficit to 3-1.

Despite a spot performance by Edelman, Ramapo tacked on a total of seven runs, a number the Lions could not get close to.

With the bases loaded late in the game, it seemed as if the team was going to start a rally that could lead to an amazing comeback. However, Ramapo was able to escape the jam, giving up only a sac fly to Limon and keeping the score at 7-2.

Being a game over .500 in the conference, the team knows that this is where they have to make some noise. The stretch run of the season is crucial, and it will show a lot about the mental toughness of this young team.

“We’re a talented team with a lot of potential and are in a pretty good shape in the conference,” Murphy said. “We hold our destiny in our hands. It’s up to us to play at the level we can and the wins will roll.”

With a dozen games remaining in the regular season, including nine NJAC games, the Lions have their sights set on the postseason. They will resume action on Tuesday, April 16 against Penn State Abington,  with the hope to use a non-conference win to build momentum that can carry over to conference games.