Baseball takes pole position in NJAC

The defensive plays help the Lions get an upset over national contender Kean and move to first in the NJAC. (Courtney Wirths / Photo Editor)
The defensive plays help the Lions get an upset over national contender Kean and move to first in the NJAC. (Courtney Wirths / Photo Editor)

The College continued to roll with confidence over the weekend, taking three of four games from divisional opponents and moving into first place in the NJAC. The Lions (15-5, 4-1) have now won 12 of 13 games with an ERA under 2.00 in that time.“We’re pitching and playing with a little swagger out there,”  sophomore pitcher Evan Edelman said.

On Saturday, April 5, the Lions welcomed No. 4 Kean University to Ackerman Park for a doubleheader. Junior pitcher Connor Smith took the mound in the first game, looking to set a program record for consecutive scoreless innings. However, Smith ran into some trouble in the first and gave up an RBI single, ending his streak of 19 consecutive scoreless innings, just four innings shy of the mark reached by sophomore pitcher Steven Volpe last season.

The Lions responded by tying the game with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning. The College managed a pair of walks and a single to load the bases with two outs before sophomore outfielder Pat Roberts nailed one up the middle, scoring junior infielder Anthony Cocuzza and sophomore catcher Garen Turner.

The College finally took the lead for good in the fourth inning, scoring three runs on a triple, double and a pair of singles, as they went on to win the game by a final of 7-4.

Smith went on to toss another complete game, his fourth in as many starts. Smith also has one save on the season.

The Lions dropped the second game by a score of 2-1. Kean’s Mike Occhi dominated the Lions throughout the day, keeping the Lions off the scoreboard until junior infielder Josh Limon drove in a run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to avoid the shutout.

 

For the Lions, senior pitcher Brendan Kelly worked his way out of jams all afternoon on his way to a complete game.

Earlier in the week, the Lions picked up wins at home against Widener University and Rutgers-Newark to extend their win streak to seven games heading into the weekend. The College’s win streak was later snapped in the second game of Saturday’s double-header with Kean.

As a team, the College has won 11 of its past 12 games. Much of the credit is due to the Lions pitching staff who, over the past 12 games, has a sub-2.00 ERA and has not given up more than five runs during that stretch.

“We knew we were going to be good,” Edelman said. “Coach has put an emphasis on burying pitches when you’re ahead in the count.”

The Lions were right back at it Sunday, April 6, with yet another doubleheader at the struggling New Jersey City University.

The College swept the doubleheader by scores of 5-2 and 6-5, respectively. Volpe allowed just two hits over eight innings pitched in the first game, while junior pitcher John Spinapont pitched five quality innings in the back end of the double-header.

Sophomore outfielder JC Rizzi had an impressive seven hits on the day and also scored three runs. Rizzi currently sits in the top-five in the NJAC for both hits and runs scored on the season and ranks first in stolen bases.

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