Friday featured huge upsets in the NCAA March Madness tournament, but that madness did not carry over onto the baseball diamond for the Lions (9-4).
The College soundly defeated the struggling Eastern University Eagles 10-1 at George Ackerman Park. Eastern is off to a slow start this season, posting a 2-6 record going into Friday’s game.
The Lions’ offense continued to roll on Friday, this time scoring 10 runs. After failing to score a run in the first inning, the Lions went on to score at least one run in every inning for the rest of the game.
This forced Eastern to use five different pitchers after starter Ryan Ellison was knocked out of the game, giving up four runs in two innings pitched. Freshman Ben Varone led the way with his three RBI.
“I was looking for the fastball, and I tried to drive it deep,” Varone said about his single that scored two runners in the third inning. “You don’t see too many curveballs hitting in the nine spot.”
Senior pitcher Brendan Kelly pitched a terrific game, giving up only one run on four hits over seven innings. Kelly pounded the strike zone and dominated hitters with his fastball while racking up seven strikeouts on the day.
“I just went out there throwing stikes and attacking the zone,” Kelly said.
Sophomore JC Rizzi stole two more bases and is a perfect seven-for-seven on the season in stolen bases.
Perhaps the highlight of the day came in the bottom of the sixth inning, when junior Michael Murray hit a monster shot over the fence in left field for his first home run of the season.
Coming off its dominating performance of Friday, March 21, the College traveled to Muhlenberg College for a doubleheader on Saturday, March 22. The Lions embarrassed the Mules in the first game by a score of 23-0. The 23 runs were the most runs The College has scored since the 2009 season. The shutout was the Lions’ first of the season. Junior pitcher Connor Smith tossed his third complete game in as many starts.
The College faced a much stiffer test in the second game of the doubleheader. Muhlenberg led going into the top of the ninth inning, when the Lions piled on four runs for a come-from-behind 9-7 victory.
The Lions will ride a four-game winning streak into the home match against Arcadia University on Tuesday, March 25.