By Nicole Apicelli
The Lions faced the Delaware Valley Aggies at George Ackerman Park on Wednesday. The game set to take place against Penn State Abington the day before was canceled due to the weather.
The Lions were off to a rocky start as starting pitcher Jordan Gray allowed the bases loaded with only one out. Gray ultimately gave up two runs, granting the Aggies an instant advantage while the pregame energy of the pride decreased.
In the bottom of the first, catcher Ryan Goodall was the only player from the College to reach base. Goodall’s walk was the only thing that stood in the way of a near one-two-three inning for Delaware Valley.
Nearly mirroring the first inning, Gray found himself in another predicament with the bases loaded and only one out. Two runs scored before a double play ball hit by Delaware Valley ultimately ended the inning — bringing the score to 4-0 in favor of the Aggies.
Unbeknownst at the time, the dynamic between the teams would quickly switch in favor of the Lions. Delaware Valley experienced their first scoreless inning in the third, following another double play executed by the College.
Delaware Valley’s pitching change in the bottom of the third proved unsuccessful as John Slover faced his first Lion’s batter, second baseman Mike Lagravenis, who hustled down the line to narrowly outrun the throw to first base — which lifted the spirit of his teammates and the crowd alike.
Outfielder Jack Haynes followed the lead during his time at the plate, providing a solid hit to advance the runner before Goodall demolished a ball into deep left field — allowing Lagravenis to safely arrive home to earn the first run of the day for the Lions.
The College took advantage of having the bases loaded and no outs as designated hitter Chris Reeder laced a ball to deep left field and allowed two more runs to score — which brought the score to 4-3 and caused the Aggies to have a meeting at the mound before they introduced another new pitcher, Ethan Saxe.
While Saxe retired the first two batters he faced, another solid hit to center field by center fielder Michael Schumacher brought in two additional runs to give the Lions a 5-4 lead with two outs. Lagravenis, the player who started the scoring streak, arrived at the plate for the second time this inning as the College batted around the order.
Lagravenis ultimately crushed the ball to center field and increased the lead 7-4. A seemingly different Lion’s team pridefully cleared the field as Gray took the mound to begin the fourth inning.
Gray pitched his first one-two-three inning of the game to bring the Lions right back up to the plate. The Aggies brought in pitcher Zak Clark, who produced a mostly painless inning, despite hitting shortstop Chris Cote in the foot with a pitch.
The Lions made their first pitching change of the day as Michael Silver took the mound at the top of the seventh inning. Silver retrieved a ground ball hit to him by outfielder Jimmy Kelly of the Aggies to make a double play and retire the side.
The Aggies brought in pitcher Ridge Watson at the bottom of the sixth in place of Clark.
Haynes batted in another run at the bottom of the seventh against Aggie pitcher Kyle Bailey, followed by several RBI’s by his teammates to give the Lions a lead of 15-4 with two outs before Delaware Valley was forced to call a meeting at the mound once again. Pitcher Bryan Zimmermann came into the game and successfully closed the inning.
In the bottom of the eighth, catcher Christian Hay batted in the place of Goodall and brought in a run for the Lions. Infielder Andrew Fernandez, who batted in place of Cote and designated hitter Zack Bowman, respectively, blasted the ball to similar spots in deep center field to bring in an additional two runs and extend the now unreachable lead to 18-4.
Silver made another double play at the top of the ninth inning to secure the win for the Lions — which appeared extra fulfilling given the unpromising start to the game.
The Lions will take the field once again on Saturday in a doubleheader against New Jersey City University at 11:30 a.m.. Saturday’s game will also occur on Alumni Day and Mercer County Miracle Day — making it one not to miss.