UNION, N.J. -- Senior Nick Zucchero launched a bases-loaded, two RBI double to deep center in the bottom of the 12th Friday afternoon to rally No. 3 Kean to a 4-3 win against Montclair State in cold, damp conditions.
Kean (17-5, 2-2 NJAC) evened the series with Montclair State (6-9, 1-1) one day after the Red Hawks edged the Cougars with a ninth inning walk-off win.
Montclair State broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the 12th when sophomore Keith Murphy lined a one-out triple down the rightfield line, then scored on senior Connor Abreu's sacrifice fly. However, Kean came right back in their half of the inning, beginning with senior Tyler Smarslok's lead-off single. After sophomore Chris Amato was hit by a pitch, senior Andy Lopez laid down a sacrifice bunt, moving both runners into scoring position.
Pinch-hitter Brock Podgurski was then intentionally walked as the Red Hawks elected to load the bases. That set up Zucchero, who entered the game as a defensive replacement in the 10th. He lined the first pitch to score Smarslok and Amato.
The Cougars set themselves up for a potential walk-off win in the bottom of the ninth as Kean loaded the bases with no outs. Sophomore Sal Taormina and rookie pinch-hitter Tyler Heisch collected singles while senior Joe O'Connor reached on a sacrifice bunt that was thrown away by the infield. Reliever John Silvestri entered the game at that point and shut down the rally with two strikeouts and a groundout to end the threat.
Kean picked up an early 2-0 lead with single runs in the first and third frames. Smarslok got things going with a double in his first at-bat and came around to score on an RBI groundout from Lopez. In the third, it was sophomore Matt Meleo reaching on a leadoff single as he later came around to score on an RBI groundout from sophomore Ryan Reitmeyer.
MSU evened things up in their half of the seventh, taking advantage of two Kean miscues.