By Miguel Gonzalez
After numerous postponed and canceled games, the College’s baseball team laced its cleats and cracked its bats for the 2019 season. Following a stellar season where they qualified for the NCAA tournament, the team is set to dominate on the diamond.
During their first home game at George Ackerman Park on March 13, the Lions outplayed Alvernia University and collected their first victory by a score of 7-3.
While many students headed down to Florida for relaxation and fun during spring break, the team competed at the RussMatt Invitational in Winter Haven, Auburndale and Lakeland, Florida from March 16 to Saturday, March 23. The Lions ended up winning seven games and dropping only two.
During its opening match against Benedictine University on March 16, the team utilized senior pitcher Andrew Rowan’s shutout performance to win. When the Lions were down 5-4 at the top of the fifth inning, Rowan kept Benedictine scoreless for the rest game.
In the bottom of the sixth, junior outfielder Thomas Persichetti launched a two-run home run to put the Lions ahead 6-5. Senior infielder Ryan Fischer added an insurance run during the bottom of the seventh inning when he hit a sacrifice fly and drove in a run. The Lions ultimately won 7-5.
The next day, March 17, the Lions faced their first challenge of the season when they played against Concordia University-Chicago, which was ranked fourth in the nation by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
Concordia proved to be a tough opponent—the Lions would only score two runs. With the game tied at two in the bottom of the ninth inning, Concordia had gathered runners on second and third base. Senior pitcher Zac deRocco then balked, resulting in a 3-2 win for Concordia.
The Lions quickly shook off the loss and dismantled the University of Southern Maine 15-4 on March 18.
The team blasted 18 hits, led by junior catcher David Cardona III’s three-hit performance. The game marked the beginning of a five-game winning streak where the Lions offense consistently produced many runs.
In a doubleheader on March 19, the Lions swept Hamilton College, winning both games 9-1 and 7-1. Freshman infielder/pitcher Matt Volpe had a stellar collegiate debut, where he tossed five hitless innings and recorded six strikeouts during the 9-1 win. In the second game, freshman pitcher Tom Kelly and Rowan limited Hamilton to one run, while the Lions offense collected six hits and four walks.
Volpe pitched five no-hitters in his college debut. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)The team then endured an offensive battle against the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. The Lions first jumped to a 6-1 lead by the top of the fourth inning.
Wisconsin-La Crosse responded by slowly gathering runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. With their lead cut to 6-5, the Lions ripped four singles to score three runs in the top of the sixth inning to lead 9-5.
Once again, Wisconsin-La Crosse erased the lead. Only this time, both teams put on a hitting clinic until the final out.
Wisconsin-La Crosse bombarded the team with four hits in the bottom of the sixth and tied the game at nine. Both team’s offenses then went back-and-forth each inning until the Lions came out victorious, 15-13.
Senior infielder Danny Borup led the team with four hits, while Persichetti, Cardona III and sophomore infielder Aydon Chavis collected three hits each.
On Friday, March 22, the Lions kept sizzling, as they blanked McDaniel College 11-0 in seven innings.
Sophomore pitcher Joseph Felipe pitched a shutout, as he struck out five batters and only allowed one hit. Meanwhile, the Lions offense continued to flex its muscles and recorded 14 hits.
Later in the day, the team’s five-game winning streak was stopped by Endicott College. With the team holding a 6-5 lead at the top of the ninth inning, Endicott loaded the bases.
Sophomore pitcher Zachary Padersky then walked a batter, which allowed Endicott to tie the game at six.
Endicott then gained the lead off a sacrifice fly. Down 7-6 in the last half of the ninth, the Lions scrambled to score. Endicott senior pitcher Liam Burke first hit Cardona III and senior infielder Tommy McCarthy.
With players on first and second base, senior outfielder Matt Giacose successfully got McCarthy to third base off of fielder’s choice. However, Burke got the next two batters out to end the rally and seal the loss for the Lions by a score of 7-6.
On Saturday, March 23, the Lions concluded their spring break trip with a resounding 10-0 victory against Framingham State University. As junior pitcher Michael Walley tossed a shutout game, McCarthy got his 100th career hit when he blasted a single to the left field in the top of the second.
With the RussMatt Invitational wrapped up, the Lions will hit the road for a match against Haverford College on Thursday, March 28.