MONTCLAIR, N.J. -- Senior shortstop Cody Pace drove in the winning run with a single in the bottom of the ninth inning Thursday as Montclair State edged No. 3 Kean University 4-3 at Yogi Berra Stadium.
Pace's hit closed out an intense game between the teams that included a little of everything: clutch at-bats, key outs and a few solid defensive plays with each team also capitalizing on the other's miscues.
After freshman rightfielder Ryan Long was thrown out at the plate by Kean shortstop Ryan Reitmeyer for the second out of the ninth, Pace drilled a 1-2 pitch just out of the diving reach of centerfielder Shane Alvarez, allowing pinch-runner Matt Long to score the winning run.
The walk-off win was the second this season by Montclair State. The Red Hawks defeated 12th-ranked Marietta 5-4. Pace belted a solo home run in the 10th inning to beat TCNJ 11-10 at home on April 28, 2012.
Sophomore lefthander Michael Macchia went the distance for the second time this season as the Red Hawks (6-8) won the conference opener while beating Kean (16-5, 1-2 NJAC) for just the third time in the last 15 meetings between the teams. Macchia (3-0), allowed nine hits, struck out five and walked one in tossing the third complete game of his career.
Montclair State grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Ryan Long walked and later stole second before scoring on a base hit by Reynolds. Kean answered back in the top of the second as an Alvarez fielder's choice knotted the game however Montclair retook the lead 2-1 in its half of the inning on a fielder's choice RBI by Ryan Long. The Red Hawks extended the lead to 3-1 in the fifth manufacturing a run. Reynolds singled with one out, stole second and went to third on a throwing error before scoring on a wild pitch.
Kean cut the deficit back to 3-2 in the sixth taking advantage of an MSU error that turned into an RBI single by Sal Taormina and the Cougars tied the game the next inning when Tyler Smarslok singled home Andy Lopez from second base with two outs. Smarlslok would get to third on a wild pitch however he was stranded there as Macchia fanned the next hitter to end the inning.
MSU would get a chance to go back on top in the bottom of the seventh but came up empty. Martini led off with a single and an error on Reynolds' one-out grounder put runners on first and second. P.J. Jennings walked with two outs to loaded the bases. Kean went to the bullpen and brought in Amato, who fell behind 3-1 against Mike Tolerico. But the Cougars pulled off a brilliant defensive play with Amato picking off Reynolds at second to end the inning.
Senior righthander Nick Zucchero got the start for the Cougars and went the first 6 2/3 innings, giving up three runs and five hits, striking out five and walking one.
Taormina finished 3-for-4 at the plate for Kean with Smarslok getting two hits. Reynolds went 2-for-5 for Montclair State.