Despite beginning the week sluggishly with three losses, the College’s baseball team was able recover after an important 7-4 victory against Montclair State University. This win helped them regain focus as they carried that momentum into a doubleheader sweep over Rutgers University-Camden.
This comeback was much needed with the playoffs looming. The Lions are currently ranked fifth in the NJAC, which is critical because only the top six teams can qualify for the postseason.
“We are just going to need to play our baseball,” senior second baseman Scott Kelly said. “We will need to execute and do our thing (for nine innings) and if we do that then we should be coming out with a victory every time.”
In their first game on Monday against William Paterson University, ranked No. 3 in the NJAC, the Lions struggled on offense, connecting only once. The lone hit came from junior left fielder Joe Dispoto in the eighth inning. That hit, however, came too late to gain any momentum as the Lions fell 4-2.
The following day against Penn State Abington, the batting problems continued as they lost 2-1.
“We just didn’t show up that day and didn’t get hits when we needed to,” Kelly said. “When we did get on base, we just left them (there).”
In Thursday’s game against Montclair, the Lions once again struggled to make contact with the ball, losing at home 13-2. Despite the large margin, Kelly was still impressed by the pitching staff.
“(They) did a great job and kept us in the game, but we didn’t field for them,” he said. “We made some errors and once again didn’t get timely hitting.”
Sophomore shortstop Anthony Cocuzza and senior designated hitter Rob Vafiadou led the team with two hits each.
Like all great teams, however, they perform best when facing adversity. In their second game against Montclair, the Lions made the necessary adjustments on the offensive side, recording 14 hits. Leading the pack with three hits and a run was Dispoto. Kelly was also impressive as he crossed home plate twice.
“(Winning that game) was huge for us and definitely a momentum builder because we lost the three games earlier in the week, but we rallied and fought back hard,” Kelly said. “We said that we needed to turn things around and we did, so I think that that win is going to carry us to (the game against Rutgers-Camden).”
Kelly’s hunch was right as the college swept the doubleheader this past Sunday against the Raptors. The first game was forced to extra innings, with the Lions winning 4-3 off of a walk-off single by Kelly. In their final game, the College won more convincingly by the final score of 10-3. Kelly once again had a stellar performance, as he finished with four hits, two runs and three RBI. Sophomore first baseman Josh Limon also had a big day, going three for four behind the plate.
The Lions season will come down to next week with three of their final four games being in conference. If the men are able to build off of the momentum from this week, then they could see themselves with a playoff berth.
“We are still in control of our own destiny, which is the best thing,” Kelly said. “We still have the opportunities to win the ball games that we need to and to get into the conference tournament, but we can’t look ahead at those games because we have to focus one game at a time.”