Baseball Outduels Wilmington, 3-2 And 6-2

Baseball sidearm pitcher
Dan Naif earned a save in both ends of Felician's Apr. 4, 2018, sweep of Wilmington. (Dave Schofield)

NEW CASTLE, Del. – Senior right-hander Dan Naif (Jackson, N.J.) picked up a pair of saves to back strong starting pitching efforts by Rob Naughton (Levittown, N.Y.) and Will Kazura (Saddle Brook, N.J.) as Felician University captured both ends of its Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference baseball doubleheader from host Wilmington (Del.) University, 3-2 and 6-2, on Wednesday at Wilson Field.

Naif earned the 20th and 21st saves of his career, extending his own Golden Falcon record. He saved both ends of a doubleheader for the first time as a collegian. Felician (9-17, 7-3 CACC) moved into a tie with Wilmington for first place in the CACC South Division.

Game 1 began after a weather delay of 1 hour, 35 minutes. While the rain eventually stopped, the heavy wind that once accompanied it never left New Castle. But though six innings, Felician graduate right-hander Naughton and Wildcat junior righty Sean Deely (Wilmington, Del.) seemed unfazed.

Wilmington (10-12, 7-3) led, 1-0, to that point, with the run coming on a Nick Grant (Houston, Del.) home run leading off the fifth. Felician was held hitless until Sean Downey (Elizabeth, N.J.) started the sixth with a double that landed on the left field foul line, but he was left stranded.

Matt Diesel (Massapequa Park, N.Y.) and Jason Aponte (Loxahatchee, Fla.) each singled to begin the top of the seventh, however. After a failed sacrifice and a fielder's choice grounder, a hit batsman loaded the bases. Downey came through with a two-run single to put the Golden Falcons ahead.

Felician picked up an insurance run in the eighth on Diesel's RBI double. The Golden Falcons stranded runners on second and third bases without scoring again in the frame, but it proved to be enough for Naughton and Naif. Naughton escaped a second-and-third, none-out jam of his own in the eighth, giving up only an unearned run on a passed ball. He answered the bell for the ninth, but after allowing a one-out double, Naif came on to induce a pair of groundouts.

Naughton (2-4) struck out four batters and walked two in his 8 1/3 innings, allowing one earned run on five hits. Deely (1-2) gave up four safeties with five strikeouts and three walks in seven frames. Both starters threw 101 pitches. Downey and Diesel were each 2 for 4 for the visitors.

Game 2 was a scheduled seven-inning affair, and pushed the boundaries of daylight by its conclusion. Felician junior Danny Healey Jr. (Brookhaven, Pa.) snapped a 1-1 tie with a third-inning RBI single, bringing home Rahul Prince (Pomona, N.Y.), who had doubled.

Starting pitchers Kazura (2-1) of Felician and Wilmington's Chuck Delagol (Warminster, Pa.) put up zeroes through the middle innings. Naif came on for Kazura with a runner on second base and two outs in the sixth and recorded a one-pitch groundout.  

The Golden Falcons broke the game open with four runs in the top of the seventh. Both L.T. Struble (Hammonton, N.J.) and Diesel scored when a sacrifice attempt by Aponte was thrown away. Prince followed with an RBI single, and Bruce Strickland (Hazlet, N.J.) was later hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

Kazura's line featured one earned run on five hits over 5 2/3 stanzas with five strikeouts and one walk. Naif gave up an unearned run in the seventh but was credited with 1/3 hitless frames for his fourth save of 2018. Delagol was tagged with five runs (three earned) on seven hits over six-plus innings.

Struble and Prince each collected two hits and two runs scored. Wildcat catcher Nick Macey (Smyrna, Del.) was 2 for 3.

Felician is scheduled to host the University of the Sciences in a CACC doubleheader on Friday at 2 p.m. in Lyndhurst, N.J.