Ewing, NJ … The College of New Jersey registered a sweep in dramatic fashion as a game-tying home run with two outs in the ninth and walk-off single in the 10th lifted them to a 3-2 victory in the nightcap game over Montclair State University.
Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth, senior Garen Turner (Hainesport, NJ/Rancocas Valley) launched two-out, solo home run to tie the game at 2. Classmate Patrick Roberts (Hillsborough, NJ/Hillsborough) then ended the game with a base hit to right in the 10th to drive in senior John Rizzi (Long Hill, NJ/Watchung Hills) to set off a wild celebration.
That victory cemented a sweep for TCNJ. They posted a 10-2 win in the opener, thanks in large part to a sterling performance from senior right-hander Steven Volpe (Cherry Hill, NJ/Eastern Regional).
The Lions (28-8, 12-6 NJAC) locked up the number two seed in the 2016 New Jersey Athletic Conference Championship Tournament. TCNJ will host Montclair State University this Tuesday, May 3 at 3:30 p .m. in George Ackerman Park.
Game 1: TCNJ 10 Montclair State 2
Senior Steven Volpe (Cherry Hill, NJ/Eastern Regional) won his sixth game of the season and 15th of his career as TCNJ downed Montclair 10-2 in the opener. Volpe tossed eight and one-third innings and allowed just one earned run while striking out four. Sophomore Matt Curry (Marlton, NJ/Cherokee) came on to get the final two outs in relief.
A four-run, fourth inning gave the Lions a 5-0 cushion. They took advantage of an infield error and two wild pitches to manufacture their runs. Turner had an RBI-single and sophomore Zachary Shindler (Wantagh, NY/Wantagh) was a hit by a pitch to force in another run.
A run-scoring single by Rizzi in the fifth extended the lead to 6-1. Junior Alex Christian (Milltown, NJ/Spotswood) delivered an RBI-single in the sixth and CJ Gearhart (Robbinsville, NJ/Robbinsville) lifted a sacrifice fly to put the Lions ahead 8-1.
The offense continued in the eighth as Christian singled to left to drive in Roberts, and sophomore Mike Follet (Marlton, NJ/Cherokee) drove in Christian with an opposite-field base hit.
Roberts and Turner finished with three hits, while Rizzi, Christian, Follet, and Ben Varone (Marlton, NJ/Cherokee) each had a pair.
Volpe is now 6-1 this season.
Game 2: TCNJ 3 Montclair 2 (10 innings)
Down 2-0 in the bottom of the ninth, TCNJ Rizzi was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. He stole second, advanced to third on a ground out, and scored on a ground ball to first by Roberts.
Turner came up with the bases empty, and with the count 1-1, hit a towering shot of the netting in left field to tie the game. He was a greeted by an ecstatic bench at home plate as the clutch homer sent the game into extra innings.
After Curry pitched a scoreless frame in the top of the tenth, Follet led off the bottom of the inning with a single to center. Varone put down a successful sacrifice bunt and was safe on an infield error. Rizzi then moved the runners up with a sacrifice bunt, and Patrick Anderson (Long Valley, NJ/West Morris Central) was intentionally walked to load the bases.
As if the Senior Day script could have been written any better, the veteran Pat Roberts singled to left off of a 1-0 count to plate pinch-runner Eric Rano (Branchburg, NJ/Somerville) and end the game.
Sophomore Joe Cirillo (Fairfield, NJ/DePaul Catholic) put forth an outstanding effort on the mound. He pitched nine innings and limited the Red Hawks to three hits. Cirillo struck out three and walked one in the no-decision Curry moved to 2-1 with the win in relief.