GLASSBORO, NJ - Top-seeded Rowan swept second-seeded William Paterson, 12-4 and 8-3, to tak the best-of-three series and win the 2021 NJAC Baseball Championship. It is the Profs' first title since 2018, and second under head coach Mike Dickson, and marks the 17th conference championship in the program's history.
The Profs (26-4), ranked eighth in the nation, have earned the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and will be making the 27th appearance in school history. The NCAA will announce the 2021 tournament field by midnight on Monday, May 23.
Rowan used a six-run fifth inning to help pace the 12-4 first-game win, and took an early 3-0 lead in the second game to earn the 8-3 victory over the 19th-ranked Pioneers (27-8).
"I'm so proud of the players with everything we've dealt with this year - from Zoom calls to being back in person to being able to play and then going 17-1 in the conference and being able to win the conference championship. It's a tremendous job by our team and I'm so proud of the players," said head coach Mike Dickson.
The Profs broke open a scoreless game in the fifth inning with six runs off starter Rivas. After consecutive singles by Victor Cruz, Alex Kokos and Ryan Murphy to load the bases, Nick Schooley followed with one of his own to drive in the first two runs. Ryan Mostrangeli walked to load the bases again and Eric DiDomenico came through with a two-run double to give the Profs a 4-0 lead. Ryan McIsaac added an RBI single and DiDomenico scored on an error to give Rowan a 6-0 lead.
William Paterson got two back in the sixth on a single from Carson Weis and a sacrifice fly by Frankie Deane.
Rowan added four more in the sixth as Alex Kokos led off with a single and the Profs loaded the bases with two more singles from Murphy and Schooley. Mostrangeli drove in one with a fielder's choice and DiDomenico had an RBI single. Marks and DiDomenico both came around and scored on a William Paterson error to increase the Rowan lead to 10-2.
William Paterson scored two more in the seventh to trail, 10-4, but the Profs added their final two runs in the seventh, taking advantage of two walks, two batters hit by pitch and a wild pitch to go up, 12-2.
Starter Drew Ryback earned the win in 5.1 innings, with Christian Bascunan and Jean Sapini finishing off the game in relief. Darmany Rivas (8-1) took the loss for William Paterson after throwing four innings.
Schooley was 3-for-3 with two RBI and a run, and Cruz was 3-for-4 with a double and two runs. DiDomenico had two hits, scored two runs and had four RBI, with Kokos going 3-for-5 and scoring three runs.
Rowan jumped out at the start of the clinching game, as McIsaac scored the first run on a WP error and two more on a pair of sacrifice flies by Schooley and Mostrangeli to take a quick 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. The Profs added another in the second as McIsaac singled and was brought home by a Victor Cruz triple.
William Paterson countered with one in the second inning, but Rowan would add one run in each of the third and fourth innings to increase its lead to 6-1 Jared Marks drove in Ryan Murphy in the third with a single and Kokos hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth that scored McIsaac.
Rowan added one more in the seventh when Trip McCaffrey scored on a wild pitch. William Paterson cut the deficit to 7-3 in the eighth but had the inning end on a play at the plate from Murphy to Kokos to Marks.
The Profs scored their final run of the game in the eighth as Schooley came home on squeeze bunt by Marks.
Sophomore righthander Eli Atiya (8-1) went six innings to earn the win, striking out four and allowing just one run. Zach Listro closed out the victory, getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the ninth with a ground out to end the game.