Baseball Uses Comeback, Shutout For Second Sweep Of Lightning

Baseball pitcher from behind home plate view.
Kyle O'Neill earned his first collegiate victory on Apr. 17, 2018. (Dave Schofield)

LYNDHURST, N.J. – Right-handers Will Kazura (Saddle Brook, N.J./East Stroudsburg North [Pa.]) and Dan Naif (Jackson, N.J./Jackson Liberty) combined on a three-hit shutout to lead Felician University to a 4-0 Game 2 victory over visiting Goldey-Beacom College and a sweep of the teams' Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference baseball doubleheader on Tuesday afternoon at the Lyndhurst Recreation Complex. Felician (19-19, 17-5 CACC) erased a 5-0 first-inning deficit to win Game 1, 6-5.

After Goldey-Beacom's big first inning in the first game, the Golden Falcons pitched 15 consecutive scoreless frames. Felician ran its winning streak to eight games, one short of the program record, and ended a day with a .500 winning percentage for the first time this season.

Felician won all four games of its CACC South Division season series with the Lightning, a second-year program.

Felician outfielders Matt Diesel (Massapequa Park, N.Y/Massapequa) and Rahul Prince (Pomona, N.Y./St. Joseph Regional [N.J.]) collected four hits apiece on the day. Senior left fielder Jason Rowe (West Hills, Calif./Los Angeles Pierce College) was 3 for 7 for GBC (14-22-1, 12-10).

Game 2 was scheduled for seven innings. The Golden Falcons reached Goldey-Beacom pitcher Jake Heskett (Derwood, Md./St. John's College HS) for three runs on just two hits in the bottom of the third. With two outs and a runner on first, a walk and an infield single loaded the bases. Jason Aponte's (Loxahatchee, Fla./Seminole Ridge) hard single to right field brought home a pair of runs, and when the ball eluded the outfielder, Diesel came all the way around from first base.

Kazura, meanwhile, showed few signs of strain. He retired his first eight hitters, and needed only 71 pitches to work through six innings. He induced a double play grounder and picked off a runner to help offset three hits and three walks. Kazura (4-1) struck out six batters in the outing.

Diesel hit an inside-the-park home run in the fifth for the final margin, and Naif pitched a perfect seventh to end the game just one hour, 53 minutes, after Kazura's first pitch. Heskett (0-4) had seven strikeouts and four walks in a five-hit effort, with Aponte and Diesel picking up two hits apiece and Prince the other.

Felician graduate righty Rob Naughton (Levittown, N.Y./Chaminade) got off to a rocky start in Game 1, giving up five first-inning runs on four hits. GBC senior Raul Perez-Duran (Trenton, N.J./Cumberland CC) highlighted the rally with a three-run double, which was sandwiched by RBI singles from Jay Smith (Zeeland, Mich./Tiffin College) and Rowe.

Naughton righted himself and delivered four scoreless stanzas before departing, by which time the hosts had chopped their deficit to 5-3. A leadoff Bruce Strickland (Hazlet, N.J./Raritan) double jump-started a two-run Felician rally in the third, and Diesel drove in a run with a two-out hit in the fourth.

After freshman Kyle O'Neill (West Islip, N.Y./West Islip) entered and continued to hold off the Lightning offense, the Golden Falcons tied the game in the sixth. Felician loaded the bases with none out, and Diesel was hit by a pitch to force in a run. Strickland was thrown out attempting to score the tying run on a medium pop-up, but Prince delivered a two-out hit to even the score at 5-5.

Anthony Santoro (Freehold, N.J./St. John Vianney) led off the home half of the seventh with a single, and pinch-runner Jesus Colon (Brooklyn, N.Y./The Phelps School [Pa.]) advanced on a wild pitch. Reliever Jake Trejo (Wauseon, Ohio/USC Sumter) (2-4) got the next two batters out, but yet another two-out hit, this one by Strickland, sent Colon to the plate and put Felician ahead for good.

O'Neill (1-0) earned his first collegiate victory, striking out five batters in two innings. Classmate Nick Nardulli (Staten Island, N.Y./Tottenville) worked a scoreless eighth, and another rookie, Michael Gutierrez (Garfield, N.J./Garfield) pitched a perfect ninth. Gutierrez, the CACC's strikeout leader, was credited with his first career save. The Golden Falcons' three freshman relievers fanned seven of the 13 batters they faced.

Strickland was 3 for 4 and scored twice and Prince went 3 for 5 for Felician. Diesel and L.T. Struble (Hammonton, N.J./Hammonton) had two hits each. Perez-Druan and Rowe were each 2 for 4 for the Lightning.

Felician begins a six-game weekend by traveling to Norristown, Pa. for a 1 p.m. doubleheader against Chestnut Hill College on Friday.