The Signal

Serving the College since 1885

Monday May 20th

TCNJ baseball ends season on win streak, sneaks into NJAC Tournament

<p><em>Lions&#x27; athletes at Trenton Thunder Ballpark (Photo courtesy of Derick Zelaya).</em></p>

Lions' athletes at Trenton Thunder Ballpark (Photo courtesy of Derick Zelaya).

By Eddie Young
Sports Editor

The College’s baseball team finished their regular season on a three-game win streak. They first split two games with Ramapo College, losing at home and winning on the road, and then winning two games at Montclair State University to get themselves into the New Jersey Athletic Conference Tournament. 

The four game stretch began with the final home game of the season for the Lions, played at Trenton Thunder Ballpark. They went there on April 25 to take on a talented Ramapo squad who entered the game 22-12. The Lions entered this game on an eight-game losing streak, and were looking to return to their winning ways from the beginning of the season.

The game started off fairly slow, with both starting pitchers putting in an impressive performance. Ramapo was the first team to get on the board, doing so with a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning. That was the only run that senior starting pitcher Jordan Gray gave up in his outing, as he worked the first six innings for the Lions.

Things started to unravel for the College in the seventh inning. Freshman reliever Evan Frank came in for Gray, and Ramapo was able to get to him quickly. Frank only faced four batters, but three of them got hits. All three of those runners scored in the seventh, and Ramapo took a 4-0 lead.

The Lions were able to get a run in the bottom of the ninth off of a double from junior second baseman Mike LaGravenis, but they would ultimately lose the matchup in Trenton to Ramapo, 5-1.

The College had to clear their memory of that game quickly, though, as the next day they traveled to Ramapo to take them on again. This time, they were able to score first and hold onto that lead.

They were able to put six runs up in the second inning, thanks in large part to two crucial errors made by the Ramapo defense. They scored three more in the third, giving them an early 9-0 lead that they were able to keep for the rest of the game. They ended up winning 13-5, giving junior starting pitcher Dan Merkel his fourth win of the season. LaGravenis had a stellar day from the leadoff spot in the lineup, going 3-7 with four RBIs.

The College then traveled to Montclair State for a doubleheader on April 27. Montclair State entered the day as the sixth team in the NJAC standings with a conference record of 8-8, and the Lions were seventh in the conference with a record of 7-9. The NJAC Tournament only takes the top six teams, so that final spot was going to be decided by this doubleheader. The Lions would need to win both games, or else their season would end. 

Montclair State got out to an early lead against the Lions, taking a 7-0 lead after the first three innings. All hope of a playoff berth seemed to be lost for the College, as Montclair looked like they were going to run away with this one.

However, the Lions did not back down, and they were able to score seven unanswered runs in the next three innings to tie the game up. Montclair State was able to immediately respond, though, and put up three more runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 10-7 lead.

The Lions were able to earn back two runs in the seventh, and they eventually entered the top of the ninth down one run with their playoff hopes on the line. However, after two walks, junior designated hitter Justin Marcario was able to get an RBI single to tie the game at 10 and keep the season alive for the Lions.

No one was able to score in the first two extra innings, but the Lions finally were able to break through in the top of the 12th, scoring three runs on the back of the sacrifice flies and and RBI single. Senior reliever Joe Ferrari shut the Red Hawks down in the bottom half of the inning, and the Lions took home a 13-10 win in a thriller to keep their season alive. 

In a game filled with scoring, Ferrari played a huge part in the win on the mound. He pitched the final four innings of the game, giving up one hit and no runs. His clutch pitching gave the Lions the chance to make the NJAC Tournament with a win in the second game of the doubleheader.

In the second game, the Lions were able to quickly come down from the high of their previous victory. They scored seven runs in the second inning, and this time, there was no seven-run comeback from the opposing team. The Lions built onto their lead throughout the game, and were able to cruise to an easy 14-3 victory, clinching the sixth spot in the NJAC Tournament. 

Junior starting pitcher Jackson Malouf held it down on the mound, pitching all nine innings and throwing 142 pitches on the day in his team’s playoff-clinching performance.

The Lions will now travel to Galloway, New Jersey, on April 30 to take on the NJAC’s top seed, Stockton University, in the start of the conference’s double elimination tournament. The College is guaranteed a second game, which will take place at Rutgers-Camden on May 3.


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