By William Guttman
The top two teams in the New Jersey Athletic Conference met on Sunday, April 22 at George Ackerman Park in an exciting contest.
The first game of the series between the Lions and Rowan University was played on Friday, April 20 in Glassboro, New Jersey. The Lions could not scratch a run in the 1-0 defeat.
Before the Lions and Rowan could play again, the team had business elsewhere. The Lions traveled to Jersey City, New Jersey on Saturday, April 21 for a doubleheader against New Jersey City University. The Lions swept the doubleheader with 7-6 and 7-0 victories.
When the teams took the field on Sunday, the warm, clear day with winds blowing out toward center field was perfect for the matchup.
On the mound for the Lions was sophomore pitcher Michael Walley. Rowan countered with junior pitcher Andrew DiPiazza.
After an inning and a half of uneventful play, senior utility player Austin Lindsay got the offense started with a leadoff, line drive home run to left field.
Walley escaped a first-and-third jam unscathed in the top of the third, handing the game back to his team’s bats. Junior infielder Ryan Fischer led off the half inning with a double and sophomore outfielder Thomas Persichetti reached on an error two batters later. The Lions then scored two runs off of Lindsay’s second extra-base hit of the afternoon, a double to center field.
Rowan came back in the top of the fourth inning. Rowan’s two solo shots and an RBI double tied the score at three.
Junior first baseman Tommy McCarthy led off the bottom half of the fourth with a double to left field. Following sophomore outfielder Jacob Simon hitting a productive groundout to move McCarthy to third, sophomore catcher David Cardona III hit a sacrifice fly to put the Lions on top, 4-3.
Walley recorded three strikeouts in the fifth, but a Rowan home run evened the score at four.
For the fourth inning in a row, the Lions started off with a double, as junior infielder Danny Borup hit a double extra base hit to right field. Persichetti promptly followed with another
double, scoring in Borup. Later in the inning, Persichetti scored on a wild pitch, allowing the Lions to accumulate a 6-4 lead.
Junior pitcher Dylan Crowley entered the game to relieve Walley. In two innings of work, Crowley stopped Rowan from continuing the back-and-forth battle, only giving up two singles.
The Rowan bullpen cooled down the Lions during these two innings, but after a 1-2-3 inning by sophomore pitcher Nickolas Kleftogiannis, three Rowan pitchers combined to allow three more runs for the Lions, padding the College’s lead to 9-4.
Walley struck out four and earned the win to move to 3-1 on the season. Senior pitcher Matt Curry came on in the ninth to secure the game, giving the Lions their 23rd win of the season while handing Rowan its sixth loss.
Lindsay commended Rowan’s starting pitcher DiPiazza, who came into the game with a 0.75 ERA. However, when the offense and pitchers reach their full potential, Lindsay believes the Lions have the advantage.
“I don’t think there’s a better team than us,” Lindsay said. “When everyone is contributing like they did today, that’s when it’s fun.”
Head coach Dean Glus was very pleased with how the bullpen came in and shut Rowan down. He was happy to have his whole team be a part of the win on both sides of the ball.
“It does a lot for a team,” Glus said.
Earlier on April 17, the Lions secured a 14-4 win against Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham.
The Lions return to action on Thursday, April 26 in Wayne, New Jersey to take on William Paterson University. They then compete against William Paterson again at George Ackerman Park on Friday, April 27 at 3:30 p.m.