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Baseball outplayed in reversal of fortune

Baseball’s early advantage in the NJAC slips away during a rough week. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)
Baseball’s early advantage in the NJAC slips away during a rough week. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

Coming off an eight-game win streak, the Lions stumbled this past week, losing four of five games.

“We’ve just been getting outplayed,” sophomore pitcher Steven Volpe said. “If we get back to the basics and fundamentals of the game, we’ll be fine.”

All four losses came against conference opponents. The one win and four losses dropped the College all the way from first in the division down to sixth place out of 10 teams. With a 4-5 conference record, the Lions sit four conference points back from top-seeded Rowan, with 11 conference games left in the season.

“(Coach Glus) reminded us to execute, maintain our focus and have trust in ourselves and teammates to get the job done but still have fun out there,” sophomore catcher Matt Facas said.

Volpe picked up the team’s only win this week on Thursday, April 10. He pitched into the sixth inning, on his way to his fourth win of the season. Volpe worked his way out of jams all afternoon, before leaving the game with runners on first and second and no outs in the seventh inning.

Sophomore relief pitcher Mike Correa was called on to protect the team’s three-run lead. Correa gave up a single that cut the Lions’ lead to 5-3. Sophomore center fielder JC Rizzi made a nice catch on the run for the first out to limit William Paterson’s damage. Correa dug in to record the force, a pop up, and then a strikeout to end the Pioneers’ threat.

Junior pitcher Benito Gonzalez shut the door on the Pioneers in the ninth inning, picking up his first save of the season and giving the Lions a 5-4 win, avenging the previous day’s shutout loss to eighth-place WPU.

The College followed up Thursday’s win with back-to-back losses to fifth-place Ramapo College. The team dropped the first game by a final of 9-4 before a 7-1 defeat in the second game.

The Lions’ schedule does not get any easier this week with games at Farmingdale State College and a home-and-home with fourth-place Montclair State University. The team will then travel to Rutgers-Camden University for a doubleheader with the first-place Scarlet Raptors on Saturday, April 19.

“As long as we stay positive and continue to go out there and keep working hard, we’ll be fine. We are still in good shape for the last three weeks of the season and we just need to get back into a rhythm, start winning some ballgames, and build up our confidence as a team going into the final stretch of the regular season,” sophomore catcher Matt Facas said.

If the Lions can do that, there’s plenty of time remaining to improve their standing in the NJAC — and they can start by getting back to the win column this week.

“Baseball’s a long season. There’s a lot of ups and downs, but the character of this team is strong,” Volpe said. “I’m sure we’ll bounce back this week and get a few wins.”

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