By Maximillian C. Burgos
The baseball team started the week off on April 18 at Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham and ended it at home on Sunday, April 23, with a doubleheader against New Jersey City University. The Lions won three games, while dropping two closely contested home games to the Gothic Knights and Rowan University.
The Lions won their first game on April 18 against the Devils, 7-5. Freshman pitcher Nickolas Kleftogiannis stood tall on the mound, earning his first win of the season. Junior pitcher Matt Curry came in the ninth to earn a save and keep the Lions on top.
During the third inning, junior infielder Zachary Shindler earned his 100th career hit, driving a ball directly over the pitcher and into center field for an RBI-single. The Lions continued to rally, scoring in the following two innings.
The Devils battled back and kept the score close, 5-4, by the end of the fifth inning. The Lions scored two more times and gave up a run in the ninth, securing the victory 7-5. The team had eleven players hitting during the game and allowing only one error.
The Lions traveled to Rowan University on Thursday and won by landslide, 9-2. The offense scored nine runs on 14 hits. Junior pitcher Brandon Zachary pitched six innings and allowed only one run on four hits en route to a win. It was Zachary’s third win, which evens up his record at 3-3 this season.
Juniors utility player Austin Lindsay and outfielder Mike Follet each knocked in three hits, helping the Lions blow the game to 7-0 by the sixth inning. The Profs answered the Lions back with two runs in a desperate attempt to get back.
On Wednesday, April 21, the Lions hosted the Profs in a heated rivalry game. Both teams had nine hits and forced each other into a plethora of errors, totaling 7. The Profs ultimately came out on top, handing the Lions a tough loss at home, 5-4.
In the third inning, Shindler hit an RBI-double, trying to spark the Lions explosive offense. Senior catcher CJ Gearhart captured some of the spark, hitting a RBI-triple in the same inning.
In the seventh inning, the Profs extended the score to 5-2. The Lions clawed their way back with two runs, but they could not get over the deficit. The loss put a blemish on freshman pitcher Michael Walley’s record, handing him his first loss of the season.
Fast forward to Sunday, the Lions hosted a doubleheader against New Jersey City University. The Lions splitted the series, thrashing the Gothic Knights in the first game shutout and losing in the closely contested second game.
Junior pitcher Joe Cirillo dominated the first game with his pitching performance. Cirillo struck out for a career-high 10 batters for the third time this season. He only allowed four hits and walked one batter. In his last 36 innings on the mound, Cirillo has proved to be invaluable ace for the Lions, allowing only two earned runs and striking out 37 batters.
Gearhart geared the Lions offense to a solid start by ripping a two-run single. Lindsay also scored two runs on a single later in the game. The Lions only ran away with the score from their while Cirillo silenced the opposing offense, earning the Lions a 7-0 shutout victory.
The Lions then lost a close game, 6-4, putting a second blemish on sophomore pitcher Michael Fischer’s record and making it 5-2.
After hitting a solid triple, freshman outfielder Thomas Persichetti scored on a wild pitch that got away from the opposing catcher. He dashed to home plate and put the Lions on the board from the Gothic Knight error.
The Gothic Knights countered aggressively and commandingly with four straight runs in the second inning. The Lions then manufactured a run in both the fourth and fifth innings. The Gothic Knights immediately answered and scored one run in the sixth and seventh innings. The Lions tried to mount a rally, scoring in the eighth, but ultimately fell short.
The Lions have improved their record to 23-8, maintaining their high status and flexing their muscles in the New Jersey Athletic Conference.
The Lions will return to George Ackerman Park to play against conference rival William Paterson University on the Thursday, April 27, at 3:30 p.m. The Lions then travel to William Paterson University for a second game on Friday, April 28. The team ends their season at home on Saturday, April 29, against Kean University for a doubleheader starting at 11:30 a.m.