TCNJ, No. 4 Kean split pair of games
Dewitt's walk-off hit in 10th inning lifts Lions to victory in opener
EWING, N.J. -- The College of New Jersey split its Sunday doubleheader with fourth-ranked Kean on opening weekend of New Jersey Athletic Conference play.
The Lions (12-9, 1-1) won a thrilling 2-1 game in the opener in 10 innings, while the Cougars (15-6, 1-1) rebounded to win the second game 1-0.
Game 1: TCNJ 2, Kean 1 (10 innings)
TCNJ won in thrilling fashion as Jacob Dewitt lined a walk-off base hit to left field in the bottom of the 10th inning to plate Nick Cifelli, securing its first conference victory of the season.
The dramatic win did not overshadow a classic pitcher's duel between TCNJ's Robert Graber and Kean's Kevin Herget. The two right-handers went toe-to-toe through the first seven innings of scoreless play. Herget was touched for a run in the eighth before the Cougars got a run back off Graber in the ninth.
For the game, Graber went 8.2 innings, giving up just three hits, one run and striking out four. He did not factor into the decision. Herget (3-2) was the tough-luck loser, pitching 9.2 innings and striking out a season-high 13 batters while scattering seven hits.
After seven and a half scoreless frames, both teams traded runs off wild pitches to break the deadlock. The Lions took the lead when Kelly legged out an infield single after hitting a 1-0 pitch to deep short. He stole his 20th base of the season before advancing to third base on a wild pitch. With a 2-2 count on Jimmy Ruzich, Herget made his 100th delivery of the game to home plate and uncorked a wild pitch in the dirt. Kelly raced home and beat the play at the plate to give the Lions their initial run of the day.
The Lions were two strikes away from a 1-0 shutout win, but a wild pitch with a runner on third base enabled the Cougars to tie the contest. Reliever Mike Ham recovered to record the final four outs of the game to earn his first mound decision of the season.
With one out in the 10th, Cifelli walked, Ruzich singled, and Michael Murphy walked to load the bases. One out later, Dewitt drilled a two-strike pitch to left field to end the game.
Game 2: Kean 1, TCNJ 0
The back-end of the doubleheader was nearly a carbon copy of the first. TCNJ's Eric Lewis and Kean's Chris Cirlincione put on a pitching clinic, throwing strike after strike for nine complete innings. 225 pitches were thrown and 153 of them were for strikes.
The Cougars scored all they would end up needing in the fourth inning. Shane Alvarez singled to lead off the inning and moved to second on a fielder's choice. Alvarez advanced to third on a fly ball and coasted home when Dylan Laguna legged out an infield single.
In the meantime, Cirlincione maintained command of the game, allowing just four runners to reach base in the opening seven frames.
In the eighth inning, Kean threatened to increased its advantage when D.J. Breckenridge walked and advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt. Eddie Jennings then singled to right field, but Murphy charged and fired a strike to Ruzich, who turned and hit catcher Mike Galeotafiore with another strike to cut down Breckenridge at the plate.
Ruzich singled with two outs in the ninth, but shortstop Steve Sanguiliano dove to his left and flipped to second for the force out to end the game.
Lewis (3-1) was terrific for the Lions. He pitched all nine innings, giving up just one run on eight hits, walked two and struck out two. Cirlincione tossed a complete-game shutout for his fourth win of the year against no losses.
Jennings and Tyler Smarslok (Jackson, NJ/Jackson Liberty) had two hits each for the Cougars.