(April 16, 2016)Ewing, NJ … Senior Steven Volpe (Cherry Hill, NJ/Eastern Regional) and sophomore Joe Cirillo (Fairfield, NJ/DePaul Catholic) pitched The College of New Jersey to a pair of victories at New Jersey City University on Saturday afternoon in New Jersey Athletic Conference action.
Volpe (5-0) fired a complete-game shutout in the opener, leading the 17th-ranked Lions to their eighth straight win by a score of 4-0. Cirillo (6-1) tossed seven strong innings in the nightcap to claim the ninth consecutive win, 7-5. Sophomore Matt Curry (Marlton, NJ/Cherokee) took the mound for the final two innings to earn his sixth save.
TCNJ now stands at 23-4 overall and 8-2 in the NJAC.
Game 1: TCNJ 4 NJCU 0
Volpe was the story of the game as he took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning. With the exception of a first-inning error by the Lions, Volpe was perfect through five. He walked and hit a batter in the sixth, but induced a fly ball to left field to end the inning. Gothic Knight Nick Ruscingno single to left with one out into the seventh to break up the no-hitter. Volpe kept the shutout intact in the seventh and eighth, and when NJCU loaded the bases in the ninth, he reached back and struck out the final batter looking to cap it off. It was his fourth strikeout of the game.
The top of the line-up took care of business for the Lions. They accounted for seven of their nine hits and drove in all four runs. John Rizzi (Long Hill, NJ/Watchung Hills) broke a scoreless tie in the fifth with a two-run double down the left-field line. Senior Patrick Roberts (Hillsborough, NJ/Hillsborough) followed with a single to center to score Rizzi and stake Volpe with a three-run cushion.
Rizzi drove in sophomore Zachary Shindler (Wantagh, NY/Wantagh) in the sixth to stretch the lead to 4-0. He finished 2-for-4 for three RBI and a run scored.
Sophomore Patrick Anderson (Long Valley, NJ/West Morris Central) chalked up three more hits in the game. Roberts also had a pair, while CJ Gearhart (Robbinsville, NJ/Robbinsville) and Alex Chrisitan (Milltown, NJ/Spotswood) also singled.
Volpe is now 14-5 in his career at TCNJ.
Game 2: TCNJ 7 NJCU 5
TCNJ jumped out to a 2-0 lead with single runs in the first and second inning. Cirillo retired the first nine batters he faced, but the Gothic Knights rallied in the fifth to tie the game at two.
The middle of the line-up provided the firepower for the Lions in game two. Sophomore Mike Follet (Marlton, NJ/Cherokee) tripled to left-center in the sixth to plate Shindler, who had walked. NJCU evened the score with a run in the seventh, but Follet struck again with an extra baste hit. After Shindler drew a free pass (his third of four in the game), Follet doubled to right to drive in the go-ahead run.
After Curry held the lead in the bottom of the eighth, Christian delivered a two-run single in the ninth to make it a 6-3 game. Follet followed with his third RBI of the contest, ripping a single to give the Lions a four-run cushion.
The Gothic Knights took advantage of two errors in the ninth to score two, but Curry induced a 4-6-3 double play and a ground out to third to complete the sweep.
Follet and Christian each had three runs batted in, and Shindler scored three times. Shindler, the leading hitter in the conference, demonstrated his patience at the plate by walking six times in the doubleheader.
Cirillo went seven innings, scattering eight hits and fanning six. Curry struck out two and did not allow an earned run
TCNJ will look to make it 10 straight when they host Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. in George Ackerman Park.