Washington, Pa. … The College of New Jersey baseball team saw its tremendous season come to a close, falling to The College of Wooster by a score of 5-3 at the 2016 NCAA Division III Mideast Regional tournament hosted by Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pa.
The Lions finished the season with a 32-12 overall record, the most wins they have compiled since going 34-11 in 2007. The Fighting Scots (37-12) advance to play La Roche College in the loser’s bracket final. The winner will play Randolph-Macon College in the championship round.
The game was delayed 20 minutes due to rain at the start and then was interrupted for nearly three hours after heavy rains came in the eighth inning. Wooster was able to get the final three outs in the ninth inning to stay alive in the tourney.
TCNJ battled from behind to take a 3-2 lead in the seventh, but Wooster scraped up three runs in the bottom of the inning to regain command. The Fighting Scots took a page out of the TCNJ offensive playbook in the game, scoring all five of its runs with two outs.
Senior right-hander Eric Teesdale (Stratford, NJ/Sterling) pitched very well for the Lions, tossing six and two-third innings. He scattered seven hits, struck out five, and surrendered just one earned run. Sophomore Matt Curry (Marlton, NJ/Cherokee) pitched an inning and a third in relief.
Wooster got on board in the opening inning. James Lackner stroked a two-out single to right field to score Michael Wielansky for the game’s first run.
Sophomore Jake Fling led off the bottom of the third with a base hit. He moved up to second on an infield single and advance to third on a fielder’s choice. With two outs, Lackner struck again with an RBI-single to score Fling and nudge the lead to 2-0.
On the mound for Wooster, senior Zach Woullard kept the Lions’ offense in check through the first five innings. He surrendered only two hits to sophomore Mike Follet (Marlton, NJ/Cherokee) in the third and junior Ben Varone (Marlton, NJ/Cherokee) in the fifth.
TCNJ broke through with a run in the sixth, cutting the deficit in half with one swing. Sophomore Zachary Shindler (Wantagh, NY/Wantagh) drilled a 3-1 pitch over the right-field fence for his third home run of the season.
The Lions came back with two in the seventh to take a 3-2 lead. Varone and senior John Rizzi (Long Hill, NJ/Watchung Hills) drew back-to-back walks. Sophomore Patrick Anderson (Long Valley, NJ/West Morris Central) dropped a perfect bunt down the third-base line and beat the throw to load the bases with one out. Senior Patrick Roberts (Hillsborough, NJ/Hillsborough) lined a shot at the center fielder for a sacrifice fly to score Rizzi, giving TCNJ its first lead of the contest.
Teesdale came out and recorded the first two outs in the bottom of the seventh. A single and an infield error put runners at first and second. Teesdale walked the next batter and was lifted. Wooster scratched out its three runs with a bases loaded walk, infield single, and hit batsmen.
TCNJ threatened in the ninth. Roberts and senior Garen Turner (Hainesport, NJ/Rancocas Valley) both singled in what would be the final at bats of their collegiate career. But Wooster closer Mike Whitake recorded the final two outs for his fourth save.
Roberts finished his career with a .336 career batting average, 157 hits, 105 RBI, 101 runs scored, and 11 home runs. Turner posted a lifetime batting average of .301 with 172 hits, 118 RBI, 103 runs scored, and 11 homers.
In the first inning, Rizzi was hit by a pitch for the eighth time in the NCAA tournament. He promptly stole second base and became the Lions’ program all-time leader in stolen bases with 99 in his career. Rizzi had a phenomenal tournament, hitting .455 with seven runs scored, five hits, three walks, and a .727 on-base percentage. He was a perfect 8-for-8 in stolen bases. For his career, he hit .309 with 157 hits, and 153 runs scored.
Shindler also had an impressive tournament, batting .294 with a .765 slugging, 13 total bases, two triples, a home run, and six runs batted in.