JERSEY CITY, N.J. (NJCUGothicKnights.com) | The New Jersey City University baseball is now playoff eligible and honored its seven-man senior class with a convincing victory. NJCU scored three runs in the first and third innings and tacked on four more in the fourth while pounding out 20 hits, on the way to a 12-2 victory over regionally-ranked New York University on May 3 at the Thomas M. Gerrity Athletic Complex.
Junior left-handed pitcher Mike Ramirez (Old Bridge, NJ/Saint Joseph-Metuchen) came into the game in relief as the leveraged starter in the third inning and was lights out, firing 7.0 shutout innings of two-hit baseball with six strikeouts and only three walks over 102 pitches. He retired seven in a row between the fourth and seventh innings and allowed just one hit in the final six frames.
The Gothic Knights improve to 18-18 overall and at .500, are now eligible for the Eastern College Athletic Conference Division III Baseball Championship next week if NJCU can end the year .500 or better. NJCU has a scheduled doubleheader on May 7 at Moravian to wrap up the regular season. The Knights also wrapped up the home schedule with an 8-5 ledger.
The 18 wins are just one shy of the single-season school record of 19 set in 1986 and matched in 1995 and 2005—the last time NJCU reached the postseason.
NYU, which was ranked No. 9 in the NCAA Division III New York Regional rankings, had its three-game winning streak snapped, falling to 19-13.
Prior to the contest, NJCU honored its large seven-man senior class which included third baseman Taylor Born (South Plainfield, NJ /South Plainfield), shortstop Zach Buchholz (Colonia, NJ/John F. Kennedy Memorial-Iselin), right fielder Joe Coutinho (Colonia, NJ/Colonia), catcher CJ Pulcine (Hazlet, NJ/Raritan), second baseman Jeff Reinecke (Middlesex, NJ/Middlesex), center fielder Nick Ruscingno (Teaneck, NJ/Teaneck) and right-handed pitcher Joe Stone (Metuchen, NJ/John F. Kennedy Memorial-Iselin), who started the game on the mound.
Ruscingno had hits in his first four at bats and finished 4-for-5 with four runs and a double while Coutinho contributed his 39th and 40th RBIs of the season, batting 3-for-5 and two runs two days after being named NJAC Player of the Week. Freshman designated hitter Lenin Gomez (Edison, NJ/Edison) went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and a run scored.
Meanwhile, Pulcine and Reinecke, the lone two-year seniors on the club, had similar lines, each producing two hits and two RBIs. Pulcine also had a double and a walk.
Mike Ramirez was masterful, allowing just 1 hit over the final 6 innings.
Also for the Knights, junior first baseman Dan Berardi (Bridgewater, NJ/Middlesex) finished with three runs and two RBIs, adding a double while Born was 2-for-4 with a run and walk. Buchholz had one RBI. Stone went the first 2.0 innings on the mound, allowing one earned run.
NYU, which committed four errors, was limited to seven hits. Freshman right fielder Coltrane Tait (Newport Beach, Calif.) was 2-for-4. No other Violets player had multiple hits. NYU utilized four pitchers. Sophomore righty William Jauss (Naples, Fla.) went the first inning, allowing three runs and five hits in the loss (0-1).
HOW IT HAPPENED:
NYU scored first in the top of the opening inning when sophomore center fielder Jack Walter (Lubbock, Texas) led off with a single, stole second before advancing on a throwing error and scoring on a wild pitch that caromed over the backstop.
But NJCU quickly answered. With one out in the first, three-time NJAC Rookie of the Week and left fielder Bill Feehan (Point Pleasant, NJ/Point Pleasant Boro) and Ruscingno singled back-to-back and Berardi ripped a double down the left field line for a 2-1 lead. Gomez extended his arms for a single to center and a 3-1 lead scoring Berardi. Coutinho tried to score on a fly ball to center with two outs but Walter made a perfect strike to the plate to throw him out. It was one of two outfield assists for NYU.
NYU got a run back in the second to cut it to 3-2 when freshman first baseman Ford Ladd (Longmont, Colo.) doubled and scored on a single down the line by sophomore designated hitter Trevor Francesconi (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.).
Ramirez came into the game in the third and NYU loaded the bases after two outs before Ramirez struck out Francesconi on three pitches and he settled into a groove, allowing just batters over the minimum from there.
Meanwhile, NJCU began its offensive onslaught. Ruscingno led off with a double and after an error, Coutinho singled for his 39th RBI, scoring Ruscingno for a 4-2 lead. With one out, Reinecke singled to right to score Berardi who earlier reached on an error for a 5-2 lead. A groundout by Pulcine made it 6-2, scoring Coutinho as part of a three-run inning.
NJCU put the game away in the fourth, collecting five hits while taking advantage of a pair of Violet errors. Born and Ruscingno singled and with one out, Berardi reached on an error on what could have been an inning-ending double play. Instead, Gomez slipped a two-run single up the middle for an 8-2 lead. Reinecke followed with an RBI double and Pulcine doubled in the 10th run before Reinecke was thrown out at the plate to end the inning on another fine defensive play.
NJCU punctuated the win with two runs in the sixth inning. Ruscingno led off with a single and scored on Coutinho's second RBI of the game, a single to right. After Gomez singled and Pulcine walked, Buchholz had a bases-loaded single for the 12th run. Nick Ruscingno had four hits and scored four times on Senior Day. He's now ninth in school history with 154 hits.
Facebook Live postgame interview with the 2017 Senior Class: https://www.facebook.com/NJCUGothicKnights/videos/10154843292344915/
- NJCU had at least one hit in every inning except the fifth.
- The 12 runs are the third most against NYU this season. Vassar scored 15 (15-14) on March 18 and Emory won 13-6 in April 21.
- Nick Ruscingno (Teaneck, NJ/Teaneck) notched moved into a share of ninth place in school history with 154 career hits in 135 games and 123 starts, matching Dave Long (1987-90).
- Joe Coutinho (Colonia, NJ/Colonia) is still 20th in school history, now with 129 hits in 130 games but only 110 starts. He is five hits away from the next step on the hits ladder.
- Zach Buchholz (Colonia, NJ/John F. Kennedy Memorial-Iselin) now has 110 hits in 132 games and 118 starts. He is tied for 33rd place in program history with Denis Peguero (2001-04) and Jeff Gajewski (1993-96).
- Dan Berardi (Bridgewater, NJ/Middlesex) is now has 106 hits in 85 games over 81 starts. He is tied for 38th place with two-year great Phil Lospalluto (2002-03).
On May 7, weather permitting, NJCU heads to Bethlehem, Pa. and Gillespie Field to take on Moravian College in a pair of nine-inning non-conference games. The doubleheader was originally scheduled as a single game on March 16 and rescheduled as two games on April 23 before being postponed a second time. The Greyhounds are 15-20 overall but 9-8 in the Landmark Conference and will continue a halted game against Catholic on May 6 prior to facing NJCU. The ECAC selection committee will announced its postseason selections on May 8.
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