Union, N.J. (3/2/14) – Senior Tyler Smarslok took the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the 10th and deposited it over the fence in left for the walkoff win for the Kean University baseball team by the final of 6-5.
The walkoff homerun is believed to be the first ever at Jim Hynes Stadium, dating back at least 14 years.
The homerun capped a three run rally for Kean (5-1) as the Cougars trailed 5-3 heading into the bottom of the ninth. Senior Joe O'Connor led off the frame and grounded what seemed to be a routine ball down to first base. The ball trickled through the first baseman's legs and the speedy O'Connor made it all the way to second. Before pitcher Joseph Crosser was back on the mound, O'Connor caught the Dolphins sleeping and sprinted his way to third, igniting the Cougar rally. Sophomore Sal Taormina then lined a single into the gap as Kean closed the deficit to one, 5-4. Small ball would put runners on first and second as junior James Lyczkowski laid down a bunt. The College of Mt. St. Vincent elected to try and get the runner at second, but pinch-runner Brock Podgurski was already on the bag, as the tying run was now on second. A wild pitch moved Podgurski even closer, with runners on the corners. Shortstop Ryan Reitmeyer found open space in left and his RBI single tied the contest at five-all. The Dolphins (0-5) used a groundball, double play to get out of the jam and head to extras.
Prior to the ninth it appeared that Mt. St. Vincent was going to be able to snag a win as relief pitcher Tyler Krolikowski tossed three perfect innings, with eight fly ball outs. On offense, the Dolphins were given a lot of opportunities as the Cougars issued four walks and hit six batsmen, resulting in 13 runners left on base.
After seesawing in the early innings, Mt. St. Vincent pushed through in the sixth, breaking a three-all deadlock as Josh Sharpe lined a one out, RBI double to left. He created his own run as the moved to third on a wild pitch, drawing a throw that was overthrown, allowing him to score with the score now at 5-3.
Junior Matt Mantione entered the game in the seventh, and after giving up a double to the first batter he faced, was superb down the stretch, giving Kean a chance in the final innings. Mantione (1-0) fanned six in three and two thirds innings, including five looking. He allowed just one hit and walked one. Crosser suffered the loss. He allowed three runs, two earned, in three innings of work. Crosser (0-1) allowed four hits and struck out five.
Offensively, catcher Mike Kendall was the only Cougar with a multi-hit day while Sharpe collected three hits on the afternoon in the loss.
Kean is scheduled to play one more contest this Tuesday against Eastern Connecticut State University, as long as Mother Nature doesn't get in the way, before heading west to California for six games over Spring Break.