By Miguel Gonzalez
After experiencing a three-game losing skid at the end of the regular season, the baseball team qualified for the fourth seed in the New Jersey Athletic Conference tournament.
The fourth-seeded Lions stormed the conference playoffs on the road as they defeated Ramapo College, Kean University and Rutgers University-Newark.
The team opened the tournament at Ramapo on April 30. Led by senior infielder Danny Borup’s three-hit performance, the College jumped to a 5-1 lead by the top of the second and never looked back. Meanwhile, senior pitcher Andrew Rowan tossed a complete game and limited Ramapo to only two hits.
The Lions padded the lead in the top of the seventh when junior infielder Gary Otten smacked a single and drove in two runs to put the Lions up 8-2. Senior infielder Ryan Fischer added another run off a Ramapo throwing error. With an easy win at hand, the team shut down Ramapo to seal the deal 9-2.
Following the victory, the Lions traveled to Union, New Jersey, for a matchup against second-seeded Kean. Similar to previous competitive games, the Lions and Kean fought to the final innings, with the College ultimately prevailing 4-2. In the first inning, the Lions loaded the bases.
With one out remaining, Fischer ripped a single and drove in two runs, putting the Lions ahead 2-0. On the mound, junior pitcher Peter Nielsen kept Kean’s bats quiet for seven innings. The Lions would also add another run in the top of the fifth.
In the top of the eighth, Kean cut the lead to 3-2 when junior infielder Mike Perone Jr. blasted a two-run home run. The Lions were quick to respond as junior catcher David Cardona III hit a home run in the bottom of the eighth. Senior pitcher Dylan Crowley then protected the Lions’ 4-2 lead to clinch the victory.
The Lions then blanked Rutgers-Newark 5-0 on Saturday, May 4. The game first started as a pitching duel between junior Michael Walley and Rutgers’ senior Casey Handley. The team broke through in the top of the seventh when Cardona III hit a sacrifice fly and gave senior outfielder Matt Giacose the chance to score.
Junior outfielder Jacob Simon then hit a single and drove two runs to give the Lions a 3-0 lead. Walley continued his dominance at the mound, striking out nine batters and surrendering just four hits. In the top of the ninth, the Lions scored two more runs and buried Rutgers-Newark with a 5-0 lead to clinch the win.