September 26, 2020
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Lions win five of six to get back in NJAC hunt

By Jessica Ganga
Nation & World Editor

Turner has a big day at the plate with 7 RBI. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)
Turner has a big day at the plate with 7 RBI. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

After having a tough few games in the previous week, the College’s baseball team was able to bounce back last week by adding five wins in six games.

The Lions started out their week playing at Stockton University on Monday, April 6, in a game that ended up going into extra innings. The Lions had an early lead, scoring three runs in the fourth and following that up by scoring two more runs in the fifth. Stockton tied it all up later in the bottom of the eighth. With the score still tied after the ninth, the game went into a 10th inning.

Seniors Josh Limon and Michael Murray hit back-to-back doubles to break the 5-5 tie in the 10th. Junior John Rizzi stepped up to the plate and hit an infield single to bring Murray home, which proved to be the difference in the game as Stockton went on to score only one run in the bottom of the 10th.

Sophomore closer Eric Teesdale came out to pitch the final two and two-third innings — making it the first win of his collegiate career. The starter of the game, junior Steven Volpe went seven-plus innings for the Lions, putting them in position for their win.

However, following the victory, the Lions suffered a crushing loss against Rowan University when they were home on Thursday, April 9.

The trouble started in top of the third for the College. Rowan University scored five runs off of three errors, making it a 7-1 game. The Profs used three consecutive bunt plays — two of which were mishandled and one of which was beaten out by a Rowan player for a single — to build their lead. A passed ball scored another player, putting the Lions in a difficult position.

No matter what the scoreboard read, the Lions still battled back to try and take a lead. Senior Anthony Cocuzza was one of those players, ending his night with three RBIs on three hits.

“I try and work the pitcher a little bit more and try and see if I can see some more balls and just kind of get on base,” Cocuzza said. “I’m usually a pretty aggressive hitter.”

In the fourth, junior Matt Facas led off the inning with a single. Rizzi followed by hitting into a fielder’s choice and then sped down the base line to steal second. Cocuzza earned his second RBI of the game, smacking the ball to right to bring Rizzi home.

Junior pitcher Evan Edelman went six and a third innings, handing the ball to freshman pitcher Chris Barcas in the top of the seventh.

Despite the loss, the Lions will move past forward and keep a positive mindset going into their next games.

“Our saying is ‘flush it’ kind of like a toilet because it’s kind of a stinky game and we got to forget about it,” Cocuzza said. “And that’s the game of baseball, you get knocked down time after time and you’re never going to be any good if you can’t come back from it.”

The Lions came back from the loss on Saturday, April 11 with a doubleheader sweep against William Paterson University.

In the first game, the Lions started off by scoring three runs in the first inning. Junior Garren Turner hit a two-run single, and Limon followed with a sacrifice fly to give the team an early lead. During the fifth, three straight singles off the bats of juniors Mark Mari, Patrick Roberts and Cocuzza loaded the bases. Turner drove in a run and sophomore CJ Gearhart reached on a throwing error, and two more runs came into home, making the score 6-4 for the Lions.

Cocuzza finished the game going 4-5, while sophomore Ben Varone, Rizzi, Turner and Roberts each got two hits.

WPU started off the second game with a 1-0 lead. The Lions answered back, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first off of two ground balls hit by Roberts and Limon to score the runners on base.

In the eighth, WPU had the advantage once again, scoring one run in the top of the inning, but it wasn’t enough. The Lions came back in the bottom of the ninth when Gearhart reached on an error with one out. Varone hit a bullet to left and Rizzi drew a walk. Mari entered the batter’s box and came up clutch, hitting a two-strike ground ball passed second. Sophomore Ed Guippone, who was pinch-running for Gearhart, scored along with Varone to have the walk-off win for the Lions.

The Lions now stand at 12-10 on season and 5-4 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference.

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