Struggling baseball not ready to panic yet

Baseball ends its losing streak while staying in sixth place in the NJAC. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)
Baseball ends its losing streak while staying in sixth place in the NJAC. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

After starting the season 15-5, head coach Dean Glus’s best start in seven seasons at the helm, the Lions have gone 2-8 over the past two weeks. The team has fallen all the way to sixth in the NJAC standings, with an overall record of 17-13, but had a 6-8 record in that two-week span. The top six teams in the conference make it to the NJAC playoffs. The College is currently tied for the last playoff seed with Rutgers-Newark University.

“I don’t think it’s time to panic,” freshman second baseman Ben Varone said. “As long as we hit and the pitching keeps doing what they’re doing we will be fine.”

The Lions were able to salvage a win this week, ending the team’s five-game losing streak. The College defeated NJAC foe Rutgers-Camden University in the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday, April 19, by a score of 6-2. In the next game, the Lions were downed 6-3 by the Scarlet Raptors.

Lions’ ace junior pitcher Connor Smith pitched deep into the game en route to his team-leading fifth victory on the season. Smith pitched the first eight innings before handing the ball over to fellow junior pitcher Benito Gonzalez, who closed out the game. It was the first time this season that Smith has not pitched a complete game in a game he started. Smith surrendered nine hits, but worked his way out of jams all afternoon to hold Rutgers-Camden to just one earned run. 

Clinging onto a 3-2 lead in the seventh inning, the Lions’ offense blew the game open with a three-run inning to expand their lead to four runs. 

Coming off their first win in over a week, the College raced out to a 3-1 lead in game two. However, the Raptors came back to score runs in each of the last four innings to seal the 6-3 victory.

Earlier in the week, the College dropped both games of a home-and-home with fourth-place Montclair State University. The Lions were shut out in the first game 4-0, but were able to muster two runs the next day, still falling to MSU 6-2. 

The College’s game on Monday, April 14, at Farmingdale State College was cancelled due to inclement weather. To make up for the loss, the team added a home game with Messiah College on Wednesday, April 16.

Like the Messiah himself, the Falcons offense rose from the dead to score in the 12th inning to pick up the win. Messiah relief pitcher Pat Broomell tamed the Lions’ offense, pitching five scoreless innings. The Lions’ four errors on the field were not forgiven, as two of them led to Messiah’s winning run.  The College’s offense was unable to resurrect the win in the bottom of the inning and fell 3-2. 

The Lions will begin their push for the playoffs this week with games against FDU-Florham University on Monday, April 22, followed by a home-and-home with Rowan University. The College will host a doubleheader with Stockton College on Saturday, April 26, before closing out their regular season with a home game against Arcadia University on Monday, April 28. 

“We know we have the talent to win a lot of baseball games, and as coach Glus says, it will come,” sophomore pitcher Evan Edelman said.

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