By Jessica Ganga
It has been a dream season for the College’s baseball team. An overall record of 28-8 and a New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) overall record of 12-6. A majority of the players have had outstanding performances and their hard work was rewarded. Even with a couple of losses last week, the team qualified to compete in the NJAC tournament. The team ousted Montclair State University in a doubleheader, 10-2 and 3-2, on Saturday, April 30. It was the perfect way the team could end their dominating season.
Despite the cloudy weather on Saturday, the baseball team came out hot against Montclair, sweeping its opponents in a doubleheader win.
In the first game of the day, senior pitcher Steven Volpe took to the mound and tossed an impressive game for the Lions. The veteran went eight innings and allowed Montclair just one earned run throughout the game and struck out four opponents. With the win, Volpe earned himself his sixth win of the season and 15th of his career.
On the offensive side, the Lions jumped out early in the game — something they have been consistent with all season.
In the third inning, senior catcher Garen Turner singled to left center, advancing sophomore infielder Patrick Anderson to second and bringing around junior infielder Ben Varone to home.
The Lions packed on the runs in the fourth inning, earning themselves four runs and a 5-0 lead. Montclair’s error on the field and wild pitches by their pitcher played a key role in the rally. Senior outfielder John Rizzi reached base on an error by Montclair’s third baseman, allowing Varone to advance to third and senior catcher CJ Gearhart to cross home plate. Turner stepped up to the plate singled to the shortstop, scoring Rizzi.
Rizzi had a busy night, coming up in the fifth to single to center field, scoring sophomore outfielder Mike Follet.
The offense continued their scoring in the eighth-inning, extending their lead to 6-1. Junior infielder Alex Christian slapped a single to right field. Varone advanced to third and senior outfielder Pat Roberts added to the Lions’s score.
Montclair tried to come back at the top at the ninth, scoring one run against the Lions, but would be shut down as sophomore pitcher Matt Curry took to the mound to get the final two outs for the team.
The College and Montclair struck out a 10-inning game in the afternoon game of the doubleheader, with the Lions trailing in the beginning.
Montclair scored two runs in the fourth off of a bullet down the rightfield line and an RBI ground out the Lions second baseman that scored a player.
Zeros remained across the board until the Lions came back in dramatic fashion in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Rizzi lead off by being hit by a pitch, advancing him directly to first. He dominated the bases, stealing second and advancing to third on a ground ball and made it to home by a ground ball off of Roberts bat, pushing the score, 2-1.
Turner came up to bat with the bases empty. With the count at 1-1, Turner blasted a tremendous shot, hitting the left field netting for a solo home run to tie the game at two. He was met by elated cheers by his fellow teammates, who couldn’t keep their excitement in while on the bench.
After Curry pitched a scoreless inning in the top of the 10th, Follet led off the bottom of the inning with a single to center field. Varone laid down a successful sacrifice bunt to advance Follet, but ended up reaching first on an infield error by Montclair. Rizzi stepped up in the box and moved the runners up with a sacrifice bunt. The Montclair pitcher intentionally walked Anderson to load the bases.
Roberts capped off the game with a walk-off single to left field on a 1-0 count, plating pinch runner and freshman outfielder Erik Rano.
Sophomore pitcher Joe Cirillo pitched a stand-out game on the mound, going nine innings and limiting Montclair to only three hits.
The Lions did register two losses against Rutgers University-Newark, one on Thursday, April 28, and Friday, April 29, falling 5-0 and 7-5 to their opponents. The losses did not make any difference to the team that had an outstanding 2016 season.