Union, N.J. (4/27/13) – The #2 Kean University baseball team split in the final day of regular season NJAC competition, clinching the top seed for the third straight season as they defeated Rowan University, 4-3 in the opener and falling 7-4 in the nightcap.
Kean improves to 30-8 overall, reaching the 30 win plateau for the ninth straight season and 10th time in program history. The Cougars stand with a 14-4 mark in the NJAC and will host sixth seeded The College of New Jersey on Tuesday, April 30th at 3:30 p.m.
Game one was a tight affair with neither team able to capitalize on a big inning as the teams combined to strand 20 runners in the contest. The Profs got things going right from the start with three consecutive hits to start the ballgame. Freshman Stephen Petriello plated the first run of the day with an RBI double. With the bases loaded and no outs, starter Charles Thielmann settled down and got out of the jam with his first of seven strikeouts and a double play to escape down by just one early.
Junior Tyler Smarslok answered the call and with one out lined a triple into the gap. An RBI groundout from sophomore Andy Lopez evened the game at one-all in the first frame. Kean then took the lead with a single run in the second as rookie Ryan Reitmeyer found open space in the gap with a double and junior Shane Alvarez followed with a single to left, putting Kean ahead, 2-1.
Rowan tied the game up in their half of the fifth with a two-out RBI single from junior Mark Benak and regained the lead in the top of the seventh, taking advantage of a miscue by the Cougars.
Kean tied the game up in the bottom of the eighth as rookie Salvatore Taormina got a leadoff single. After being lifted for a pinch-runner, Kean used small ball to move around the bases. Pinch-runner Connor Paglia advanced to second on a sacrifice and would later swipe third. A wild pitch allowed Paglia to cross the plate and knot the game at three-all.
Smarslok opened the bottom of the ninth with a six pitch walk. A successful sacrifice moved him into scoring position and a hard hit base hit from senior Nick Ramagli put runners on the corners. That set up junior Joe O'Connor who took an 0-1 pitch into centerfield. Junior Eric Perez made a nice diving catch coming in on the ball, but that allowed Smarslok to tag and scamper across with the winning run.
Thielmann picked up the complete game win, improving his record to 7-1 this spring. Thielmann allowed one earned run with seven strikeouts and three walks. Relief pitcher Brian Sietsma suffered the loss. Sietsma faced one batter. Starter Jeff White earned a no-decision allowing three runs and three walks with 12 hits in eight innings of work.
Ramagli and Cougar catcher James Lyczkowski each picked up three hits in game one.
In the nightcap, it was two key innings for each team that decided the outcome. Trailing 1-0, the Cougars used a four run spurt in the bottom of the second to take the lead. Rookie Aaron MacKenzie delivered a bases-loaded two RBI single into the gap and Smarslok answered later with a two RBI single to center.
That lead didn't last long, however, as the Profs (28-12, 12-6 NJAC) took the lead back with a four spot of their own in their next at-bat. Junior Eric Sellitto provided the punch with a bases-loaded two RBI single.
The score would remain that way (5-4) for most of the contest before Rowan used three doubles in the ninth inning to give them some breathing room and the 7-4 win.
Sophomore Dylan Johannink settled into the game in relief and earned the win as he tossed seven and two thirds innings strong innings allowing just three hits. He fanned nine as he improved to 3-0. Rookie Andrew Torres suffered the loss for Kean. Torres (1-1) tossed two thirds of an inning of relief as one of four pitchers in the contest.
Sophomore Kevin McMenamin led Rowan with a 3-for-5 nightcap with one run scored.
Rowan earns the third seed and will host #4 Richard Stockton College on Tuesday.