ATLANTIC CITY, NJ (May 15, 2021)--- Drew Ryback threw a complete-game victory and Victor Cruz drove in four runs and scored two on the day as top-seeded Rowan swept fifth-seeded Kean in the semifinal series of the NJAC Baseball Championship Tournament, 10-4 and 7-1, at Sandcastle Stadium. The wins advance the ninth-ranked Profs to the conference championship series against William Paterson next weekend.
Ryback (6-1), the NJAC Pitcher of the Year, recorded four strikeouts in the opener in tossing his third complete game of the season. Eli Atiya (7-1) earned the win in the second game as he struck out eight and allowed just one run.
The Profs will host second-seeded William Paterson (27-6) in the NJAC Final in a three-game series beginning with a doubleheader on Friday, May 21 at noon. The third game, if necessary, will be played on Saturday, May 22 at 2 p.m. The NJAC champion earns the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Profs will be seeking their first conference title since 2018.
Kean struck first with two runs in the second inning on an RBI ground out by Zachary Marzano and an RBI double from Chris Ciaccio.
The Profs batted around and closed out a six-run sixth inning on a two-run home run by Ryan Murphy, his team-leading eighth of the season to go up 6-2. The inning started when Jason Bobiak's double scored Jared Marks, who had walked. Victor Cruz doubled in Bobiak and Ryan McIsaac scored on a wild pitch. Alex Kokos singled to drive in Cruz and Murphy then brought home Kokos with his round-tripper.
Kean got two back in the fourth inning, but Ryback shut them down the rest of the way, while Rowan added four more runs in the fifth. Murphy started it off with a single and advanced to second on an error. Back-to-back doubles by Ryan Mostrangeli and Eric DiDomenico drove in two runs, as did a single by McIsaac and a double by Cruz to increase the lead to 10-4.
Murphy was 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBI while Cruz was 2-for-5 with a run and two RBI. Mostrangeli was 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI, as Marks went 1-for-2 and scored a run.
Rowan's defense was also a key as the Profs turned a season-high six double plays.
Frank LoGuidice (3-2) took the loss for Kean going three innings.
Kean took the lead first again, on a solo home run by Brandon Johannssen in the fourth inning.
The Profs answered with another big inning in the fifth started by a single from Marks, and he eventually scored on a single by Cruz. Kokos reached base with a single, and Murphy then drove in Cruz with a single of his own. Nick Schooley and Mostrangeli added a single apiece to give the Profs a 4-1 lead.
Rowan added two insurance runs in the eighth when Eric DiDomenico singled and advanced to second on an error and was brought home on a double from Schooley. Marks then doubled and scored on a squeeze bunt by Cruz.
Jason O'Neill relieved Atiya and got the Profs out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh with a strikeout for the final out. NJAC Fireman of the Year Zach Listro entered in the ninth and got the final three outs for Rowan, with two strikeouts. Nolan Rowan (2-1) took the loss for the Cougars going four innings.
Cruz was 2-for-5 with a run and two RBI, with Schooley and Marks both going 2-for-4 with an RBI each. Marks scored two runs as did Murphy. DiDomenico was 2-for-4 at the plate with a run scored.