BOX SCORES: Game 1 | Game 2
ALL-TIME WINS OVER #1 TEAMS, NCAA HISTORY
JERSEY CITY, NJ (NJCUGothicKnights.com) | April 13, 2013 will go down as a historic day in New Jersey City University athletics, after the Gothic Knight baseball team became the first program in the history of the institution to knock off a #1 ranked opponent in Division III athletics. Senior ace and right-hander WENDELL RODRIGUEZ(Ponce, Puerto Rico/County Prep) shutout the Kean University baseball team for the final eight innings and sophomore third baseman MICHAEL MARTUCCI (Bayonne, NJ/Saint Peter's Prep) drove in three runs as NJCU delivered a stunning upset heard around the Division III baseball world, knocking off the three-time defending New Jersey Athletic Conference champions, 5-1, at the Thomas M. Gerrity Athletic Complex. The Cougars claimed the second game of the doubleheader, 10-1.
Kean (23-6, 7-2 NJAC), ranked #1 this week by D3baseball.com and #2 by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), had won the last 19 meetings against NJCU (14-13, 3-6 NJAC) since the Knights last defeated the Cougars 11 years ago—an 8-1 decision in Union, NJ on March 29, 2002.
In the history of NJCU athletics, the win is one for the record books. Prior to the victory, the highest ranked Division III team known to have been knocked off came on March 14, 1992 when the men's basketball team defeated then #2 ranked Salisbury State College, 97-83 in Salisbury, MD in the NCAA Tournament Elite 8 to punch a ticket to the Final Four.
The only other team to defeat No. 1 ranked opponents is the NJCU women's bowling team—itself nationally ranked in every poll ever conducted. In that national collegiate sport that combines Division I, II and III schools, the Knights have defeated a No. 1 ranked team on 11 known occasions—all Division I opponents—most recently three times during the 2010-11 season against #1 ranked Fairleigh Dickinson University.
NJCU has had several near upsets of the Cougars in recent years, losing 8-7 at home on April 13, 2012 and on April 14, 2011, Rodriguez tossed a four-hit complete game gem in Union, but lost to Kean, 1-0. NJCU also fell by one run on April 3, 2010 (8-7).
Senior second baseman PETE SENYSZYN (Carteret, NJ/Carteret) reached base in eight of nine plate appearances in the doubleheader for NJCU, batting a combined 4-for-5 with three walks and one hit by pitch.
"It validates the hard work that the boys have put it to lead up to this," said second year head coach Jerry Smith. "This game wasn't won today. It was won on the practice field and all the hard work leading up to it. The boys played flawless defense, we had good pitching and when you do those little things in baseball good things happen."
"It seems like 9-9 [record] you have a good chance of making the NJAC playoffs and that's our goal. Right now we've been splitting with everybody. We do have a game to make up [in the standings] since TCNJ was able to get two from us, so we're fighting an uphill battle, but as long as we keep getting these splits, we'll put ourselves in a good situation."
In the game two victory, Kean head coach Neil Ioviero captured his 500th career win—all at the Union, NJ school since taking the helm in 1998.
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