Ewing, N.J. (4/5/14) – Rookie Mike Occhi tossed a complete game in the nightcap to help the Kean University baseball team salvage a split with The College of New Jersey on Saturday in the first NJAC doubleheader of the season.
TCNJ picked up a 7-4 win in the opener, while Kean earned a 2-1 win in game two.
The nightcap saw another pitching matchup that would be left to the starters as rookie Mike Occhi earned his second win in as many starts, this time with a complete game tag. Occhi allowed one run (in the ninth) with seven hits. He walked no one and fanned four. He kept the Lion hitters off-balance throughout the game, closing the door on their winning streak. It was the first loss for TCNJ since Saturday, March 15. TCNJ's Brendan Kelly suffered the complete game loss. Kelly (2-2) allowed two runs and 11 hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
The Cougars (17-6, 3-3 NJAC) scored both their runs in the top of the fifth as junior Anthony Fischetti recorded a two out, RBI single to center while sophomore Sal Taormina followed with an RBI single of his own, staking Kean to a 2-0 lead.
The Lions (13-5, 2-1 NJAC) scratched across a single run in the bottom of the ninth with a two out RBI single from Josh Limon, but Occhi closed the door and forced a pop up to end the threat and salvage the split in today's action.
Fischetti, Taormina, Tyler Smarslok and Chris Amato all finished with two hits as Kean collected 11 total hits in the nightcap.
The Lions capitalized in the fourth and eighth innings to pick up a win in the opener.
The Cougars jumped out on top with two runs in the first inning. Smarslok opened the contest with a single and moved to second with some small ball. Taormina brought him home with a single and after a miscue from TCNJ, Taormina would make it 2-0 as he crossed the plate on a wild pitch. The runs snapped a 19-inning scoreless streak for TCNJ starter Connor Smith. He had pitched two complete game shutouts and earned a save earlier in the week entering Saturday's start.
The Lions responded and tied the game up in the bottom of the same frame. With the bases empty, junior Anthony Cocuzza worked a two-out walk. Garen Turner singled and Limon walked to load the bases. Sophomore Pat Roberts then drilled a line drive back through the box to score Cocuzza and Turner.
Kean took the lead back in the third when Eric Fernandez stroked an RBI-single to score Brock Podgurski who walked and stole second.
Roberts sparked a three-run fourth inning when he drove a one-out triple to right field. Junior Michael Murray singled to right to tie the game 3-3. With two outs, freshman Ben Varone doubled to left-center to put runners and second and third. Rizzi came through with a single to left field that scored Murray and Varone and staked the Lions to a 5-3 advantage.
An RBI single by Taormina closed the gap to 5-4. But Smith didn't allow a runner past second base the remainder of the game.
The Lions then added insurance in the eighth as Murray and Facas walked before Varone reached on an infield single. Rizzi legged out an infield single to third and pinch-runner Ed Guippone scored. Senior Joe Dispoto walked to force in Facas and Smith quickly had a three-run cushion.
Podgurski collected his second hit of the game with one out in the ninth, but Smith induced a 6-4-3 double play to end the game and give the Lions their eighth straight victory.
Smith notched his fourth complete-game win of the season. He scattered 10 hits, surrendered three earned runs, and struck out two.
Taormina had three hits and two RBI for Kean, while Podgurski and Matt Horican each had a pair of hits.
Kean now enjoys a short break as the rest of the conference has makeups on Sunday and Monday. The Cougars will return to conference action on Thursday when they travel to Rutgers-Newark.