Baseball Rides Holland Past No. 21 New Haven To Survive In NCAAs

John Holland's nine-inning five-hitter led Felician to a 7-1 NCAA Tournament victory over New Haven on May 20, 2017. (Dave Schofield)
John Holland's nine-inning five-hitter led Felician to a 7-1 NCAA Tournament victory over New Haven on May 20, 2017. (Dave Schofield)

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Senior right-hander John Holland (Jackson, N.J.) went the distance on a five-hitter and senior second-baseman Ralph Caccavale (Massapequa, N.Y.) was 3 for 3 to lead No. 5 seed Felician University to a 7-1 victory over the second-seeded University of New Haven in an elimination game of the 2017 NCAA Division II East Regional Baseball Championship tournament on Saturday afternoon. The event is being hosted by Southern New Hampshire University at Penmen Field.

New Haven (31-13), the 2017 East Coast Conference champion, is ranked No. 21 in the most recent national Division II writers' poll.

Felician (34-14) was the designated home team on Saturday, and Holland initially struggled. He issued three walks and a sacrifice fly to Nick Perrelli (North Branford, Conn.) in the top of the first inning, and eventually threw 29 pitches. But he escaped the frame without allowing a hit and stranded two Charger baserunners.

The Golden Falcon offense took the lead for good in the third. With two outs, the left-handed hitting Matt Diesel (Massapequa Park, N.Y.) poked a 2-and-2 pitch through the left side to plate two runs. Diesel advanced on a passed ball and came home on a double to left field by senior Brennan Price (Middlesex, N.J.).

Felician took full-control with another three-run inning in the fourth. Freshman Christian Hoplock (Tinton Falls, N.J.) produced an RBI single and stole second base. Bruce Strickland's (Hazlet, N.J.) ground ball was thrown past first base, allowing Hoplock to score and Strickland to move all the way to third. Strickland crossed the plate on a bunt hit by Caccavale.

Holland and his defense were stingy from there. Catcher Matt Kleinstein (Marlboro, N.J.) picked a runner off first base in the second inning, and third baseman J.R. Menenes (Lake Worth, Fla.) snared a line drive and turned it into a double play in the fourth. The only other inning during which the Chargers put two runners on base was the sixth, when Holland worked around two singles.

Holland (8-1) struck out six batters and walked four in his nine innings of work. He threw 126 pitches, 76 for strikes. Caccavale added a walk and a sacrifice to his line, and Strickland finished 2 for 5 for the Golden Falcons. Kleinstein lined an RBI double in the fifth as part of Felician's 11-hit attack.

Felician matched the program record for victories. The Golden Falcons were 34-21 in 2016.