In a time where all of the NJAC games are of vital importance, the College’s baseball team stepped up and took three out of four games this week en route to snatching up a tie of third place in the conference.
The team delighted the home crowd on Friday, April 20 with a grind-it-out win versus New Jersey City University, 3-1.
“The hitting wasn’t there, but certainly the defense and the pitching can also win us games, and it did this time around,” senior catcher Mike Galeotafiore said.
The pitching really did win the game for the Lions, as junior pitcher Rob Schneider tossed eight innings of one run ball against the Gothic Knights.
“We held on, we won, we’re lucky we swept them and we’re in pretty good shape in the conference right now,” sophomore pitcher Jim Fuhrman said.
After Schneider’s gem, senior closer Mike Ham tossed his eighth save of the season, which places him within three of breaking the team record set by Nick Maddalena in ’02.
“I don’t really think about it in terms of the record, I think about it in terms of like, Rob today, for example, went out and threw eight really good innings, and that’s me making sure he gets his win,” Ham said. “It’s really not about what I’m doing, it’s about what those other guys are doing the first eight innings of the game.”
While Ham is humble, his teammates and coach have nothing but praise for him.
“He’s been that guy for us, where the ball is in his hands and regardless of the outcome,” Galeotafiore said. “We know that he does care only about winning, and those three outs, he knows that that’s the most important thing for him, because that’s all he has every game that he looks forward to is those last three outs in the ninth inning.”
“Mike is right up there with (the College’s greatest),” head coach Dean Glus said. “When you get seven, eight, 10 saves in a season, that’s impressive. He may be in the top 10 or 20 in the nation right now.”
As much as the team believes in Ham, however, they usually hope to be far enough ahead to not need a save.
“I believe in the closer, I was a closer in college. I believe in that role. But it’s always much easier on everybody if we go up 8-2 and go into the ninth inning and we can use someone else.”
The Lions’ bats weren’t exactly on fire during the game, but junior second baseman Scott Kelly belted a double and an RBI on his way to a 2-5 day at the plate.
“You’ve got to take every hit as it comes, and you’ve got to produce and manufacture runs like we did today, because you don’t know what the score’s going to be at the end of the game,” Kelly said.
Senior first baseman Jimmy Ruzich scored the insurance run in the seventh inning off of a double by junior right fielder Mike Murphy.
“I was just trying to keep everything simple,” Ruzich said. “The past two weeks I kind of struggled, and working with our hitting coach and just talking with my teammates, just go back to the basics, whatever got you here. It’s such a fine line between a hit and an out. I don’t even think I swung the bat that great today, I think I got more lucky, but you’ll take it every time.”
The Lions then went on to split a doubleheader against Ramapo College on Saturday, April 21, which helped solidify them at third in the conference going into the final week of conference play. The top six teams advance to the NJAC playoffs.
Glus is filled with nothing but confidence going into the team’s final week of the regular season.
“We’re going to do well,” Glus said. “One way or the other, we’re definitely going to do well.”