Baseball's Split At Dominican Is Diesel-Powered

Matt Diesel in stance.
Matt Diesel was 7 for 7 with two home runs and seven RBI in a split with Dominican on Mar. 29, 2018. (Dave Schofield)

POMONA, N.Y. – Felician University senior outfielder Matt Diesel (Massapequa Park, N.Y.) went 7 for 7 and drove in seven runs, but the Golden Falcons settled for a split of their Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference baseball doubleheader against host Dominican (N.Y.) College on Thursday afternoon at Palisades Credit Union Park. Felician captured Game 1, 12-5, before dropping the nightcap to the Chargers, 7-5.

Diesel was on base nine times in 10 plate appearances for the day, adding two walks and a sacrifice fly to his ledger. He hit two home runs in the opening game, and added a double in Game 2. Batting in the third spot in the line-up, Diesel was often set up by leadoff man Bruce Strickland (Hazlet, N.J.), who was 5 for 10 with four extra-base hits.

In Game 1, Diesel homered twice and drove in five runs in the first two innings, after which Felician was ahead, 7-1. The Chargers (5-16, 3-2 CACC) drew closer in the third inning on a sacrifice fly by Brian Rotella (Stony Point, N.Y.) and a Joe Rotelli (Morganville, N.J.) RBI double. But the Golden Falcon bullpen limited Dominican to unearned runs in the fourth and seventh innings the rest of the way.

Leading 7-4, the visitors tacked on two runs in the seventh to pull away. A sacrifice fly by Jason Aponte (Loxahatchee, Fla.) brought home a run, and a wild pitch scored L.T. Struble (Hammonton, N.J.) with another. Freshman Michael Gutierrez (Garfield, N.J.), the third of five Golden Falcon pitchers in the game, recorded a strikeout with the tying run at the plate in the home half of the seventh, and Felician added three more runs in the late innings for the final margin.

Freshman righty Nick Nardulli (Staten Island, N.Y.) (1-0) worked 2 2/3 innings of relief, yielding an unearned run on four hits with three strikeouts, and was credited with his first collegiate victory. Diesel finished 4 for 4 with three runs scored and five RBI, and Strickland was 3 for 3 with two doubles and three runs. Aponte was 2 for 4 with a triple and drove in a pair of runs.

Shota Barbeau (Atlanta, Ga.) and Tyler Malia (Delran, N.J.) collected two hits each for the Chargers.

Game 2 turned on Dominican's five-run third inning. With Felician (6-16, 4-2) ahead, 3-1, the Chargers put their first two runners on base. A bad pickoff throw allowed a run to score, and Justin Decker (Rotterdam, N.Y.) tied the game with a double. Following a wild pitch, a walk, and a pitching change, an Anthony Bartolomei (Oakhurst, N.J.) RBI single put the hosts ahead for good. Later in the frame, Joshua Colon (Bronx, N.Y.) drove in a run with a groundout and Brett Karcher-Bowen (Cypress, Texas) did the same with an infield hit.

Felician pulled to within 6-4 in the fourth on Diesel's sacrifice fly, but Charger senior Arben Becaj (Brooklyn, N.Y.) tossed three innings of scoreless one-hit relief in support of starter Nathaniel Popeil (Mechanicville, N.Y.) (1-3). After two were out in the ninth, Felician used a hit, walk and error to put the tying run on second base, but Nicholas Galese (Totowa, N.J.) induced a groundout for his first save of the year.

Felician out-hit the Chargers, 10-9. Diesel was 3 for 3 with two RBI, Strickland had a double and triple, and Struble went 2 for 5 and scored twice. Colon drove in three runs for the Chargers.

Felician plays a make-up CACC doubleheader at the Jefferson Rams (formerly Philadelphia University) on Saturday at noon in Philadelphia.