LYNDHURST, N.J. – Senior outfielder/designated hitter Matt Diesel (Massapequa Park, N.Y./Massapequa) reached 200 career base hits in dramatic fashion on Friday evening, as his two-out, two-run single in bottom of the seventh and final inning gave Felician University a 3-2 Game 2 victory over the visiting Jefferson Rams and a sweep of the teams' Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference baseball doubleheader at the Lyndhurst Recreation Complex.
Diesel was 6 for 8, including two doubles and a triple, with five runs batted in during the two games. In the nightcap, he obtained four of his team's seven hits. Felician (15-19, 13-5 CACC) rode strong starting pitching performances by junior left-hander Jacob Nappi (Little Silver, N.J./Red Bank Regional) and freshman righty Michael Gutierrez (Garfield, N.J./Garfield) to the pair of wins.
After going 2 for 4 in Game 1, Diesel sat at 196 career hits. But as Game 2, a scheduled seven-inning affair, progressed, it appeared he would not even receive four plate appearances in the contest. Gutierrez (2-3) was locked in a tight and briskly-moving pitchers' duel with fellow freshman right-hander Patrick Hohlfeld (Schwenksville, Pa./Boyertown Area) of Jefferson (formerly Philadelphia University).
Diesel's long fly ball down the left-field line and near the fence was lost in the sun for a double in the first inning. He blasted a two-out triple in the third, and legged out an infield single leading off the sixth. But he was left on base on all three occasions.
Felician second baseman Danny Healey Jr. (Brookhaven, Pa./Monsignor Bonner) reached Hohlfeld for a solo home run with one out in the second. That was the game's only scoring for the first six frames, with Gutierrez riding a two-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts.
Ram freshman Chris Smith (Reading, Pa./Exeter Township) began the seventh inning with a long double that bounded in the air off the left field fence. He was quickly driven in to tie the game by Brandon Quaranta (Poughkeepsie, N.Y./Arlington), who singled and alertly took second base on the throw home. Gutierrez struck out the next two hitters, but Andres Valbuena (Miami, Fla./Doral Academy) looped a single to short left to give Jefferson the lead.
Sean Downey (Elizabeth, N.J./Elizabeth) was hit by a pitch to start the home half of the seventh. Ram catcher Matt McGee (Forest Hill, Md./John Carroll) cut down the runner at second base on a sacrifice attempt. Hohlfeld kept the door open for Felician, throwing wildly to second on a comeback grounder attempting to start a game-ending double play, and was then replaced by classmate Daniel Sabath (Perkasie, Pa./Dock Mennonite).
Bruce Strickland (Hazlet, N.J./Raritan) drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases, but Sabath induced a pop-up to keep the Rams in front. The right-hander then went up 0-and-2 in the count on the lefty-swinging Diesel. But Diesel got enough of the bat on an outside fastball to push it up the middle and score Ron Sessa (Chester, N.J./Immaculata) and pinch-runner Vic Jamandron (Aberdeen, N.J./St. John Vianney) to end the day.
Gutierrez struck out 13 batters without a walk in his five-hitter. Hohlfeld (0-5) was charged with one earned run on six hits with four strikeouts and one walk in 6 1/3 frames. Smith was 2 for 3 for the Rams (8-21, 5-10).
Diesel is the seventh Golden Falcon to reach 200 career hits in the baseball program's 19-year history.
Nappi (3-3) and four relievers combined on a four-hitter in the opener. Nappi worked through six scoreless innings, allowing two hits and five walks while striking out eight. Meanwhile, the Golden Falcons amassed 12 runs on 14 hits over the first five stanzas.
Jefferson picked up its only run on Chase Fike's (Downingtown, Pa./Downingtown East) bases-loaded walk in the ninth.
Sophomore Rahul Prince (Pomona, N.Y./St. Joseph Regional [N.J.]) was on base five times for Felician. He went 3 for 3 with a double, a triple and three runs scored. Diesel (3 RBI), L.T. Struble (Hammonton, N.J./Hammonton) and Sessa collected two hits each for the Golden Falcons.
Felician plays CACC North Division foe Bloomfield College on Saturday in an 11 a.m. twinbill in Newark.