Ewing, NJ … The College of New Jersey baseball team suffered a 10-8 setback at the hands of Ursinus College on Thursday afternoon at George Ackerman Park.
The Lions (6-9) scored two runs in the ninth at the tying run on second, but the Bears (4-10) were able to escape the threat to snap a five-game losing streak.
TCNJ senior Michael Murphy (Staten Island, NY/Staten Island Tech) had three hits on the day including a double and his second home run of the season. Classmate Scott Kelly (West Windsor, NJ/West Windsor-Plainsboro North) finished with two hits and a stolen base, while sophomore Anthony Cocuzza (Absecon, NJ/St. Augustine Prep) also laced a pair of hits and drove in two.
Ursinus was the beneficiary of an exceptional offensive performance from Kevin Wilson. The senior catcher went five-for-six with three doubles, two runs batted in, and a pair of runs scored. Freshman Chris Jablonski also had a big day, going two-for-four and driving in three runs. Rookie William DiCiurcio earned his first collegiate victory, while Alex Manacher recorded the two-inning save.
Ursinus took a 2-0 lead in the third. A run-scoring single Lablonski plated Wilson, who had singled earlier in the inning. A ground ball by Jake Neiman scored Jablonski for the second run of the game.
The Bears stretched the lead to 4-0 on a two-run double by Wilson in the fourth.
The Lions took advantage of some generosity by the visitors in the fourth. Murphy singled sharply to left field before sophomore Josh Limon (Eastampton, NJ/Rancocas Valley) and Cocuzza drew walks. With one out, Matthew Facas (Florham Park, NJ/Hanover Park) was issued a free pass to score Murphy. Two straight errors by the Ursinus infield and a fielder’s choice off the bat of Mark Mari (Bayonne, NJ/Seton Hall Prep) evened the score at four runs apiece after four complete.
Ursinus tallied a run in the top of the fifth, but Murphy launched a solo home run to left field to lead off the bottom of the frame to tie the game 5-5. He hit a 1-1 fastball off the top of the screen in left field for his second home run of the season. Michael Murray (Stewartsville, NJ/Phillipsburg) then singled, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and came around to score on a base hit to right center from Cocuzza.
A two-run double by Wilson allowed the Bears to re-take the lead 7-6. They tacked on three insurance runs in the ninth. Junior Ralph Aurora (West Windsor, NJ/West Windsor-Plainsboro South) delivered a two-out, two-run single to give Ursinus a 10-6 lead, which proved to be the difference.
Cocuzza and Facas each knocked in a run on base hits in the ninth, but Manacher was able to secure the final out to give the Bears their fourth victory of the season.
The Lions return to George Ackerman Park this Saturday when they open New Jersey Athletic Conference play. They host New Jersey City University in an NJAC doubleheader beginning at 11:30 a.m.