UNION, NJ – The Rowan University baseball team came from behind to defeat Kean University, 4-3 in 12 innings in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Championship Tournament on Saturday.
The third-seeded Profs (28-14) are 2-0 in the double elimination tournament. The Cougars (23-18) are the fourth seed and suffered their first loss. Kean plays the top seed The College of New Jersey in an elimination game on Sunday, May 7 at noon. Rowan will play the winner of that contest on Sunday at 7 p.m. and can advance to the championship round with a victory.
The NJAC Championship Tournament is being contested at Kean. In other action on Saturday, the second seed Ramapo College eliminated sixth-seeded William Paterson University by a 6-1 margin. Rutgers-Newark, the fourth seed, bested TCNJ, 3-1.
The Profs trailed 3-1 entering the eighth inning. Outfielder Jason Clapper (sr. Mount Laurel, NJ/Lenape) hit an infield single with two outs. Second baseman Alex Kokos (fr. Wayne, NJ/Wayne Valley) followed with a base hit to right. Left fielder Shawn Leydon (jr. Roxbury, NJ/Roxbury) came through with a two-run double down the right field line to tie the score at three.
In extra innings, Clapper led off the 12th with a single up the middle. Kokos bunted and beat out the throw to first for a base hit. Designated hitter Monny Strickland (jr. Egg Harbor Twp., NJ/Egg Harbor Twp.) sent a one-out double to left field and Clapper came around to score the go-ahead run.
In the bottom of the inning, second baseman John Carello (so. Jackson, NJ/Jackson Mem.) hit a leadoff single and went to second on a sacrifice bunt. With the tying run in scoring position, right-hander Rob Grilli (sr. Middletown, NJ/Middletown S.) induced a line out then struck out the next batter for the final out.
Grilli tossed the last five frames for the win and allowed just one hit. He (5-3) struck out three batters. Righty Austin Arndt (fr. Lebanon, NJ/North Hunterdon) took the loss (1-3).
Clapper paced Rowan at the plate with three hits (six at bats) and two runs scored. First baseman Dillon Mendel (so. Sparta, NJ/Sparta), Kokos, Leydon and Strickland all recorded two hits. Leydon and Strickland each hit a double and drove in two runs. Kokos scored twice.
Cougars' third baseman Nick Polizzano (fr. South Plainfield, NJ/South Plainfield) went three-for-five with one run scored. Shortstop Derek Walker (fr. Piscataway, NJ/Immaculata) tallied two hits and one RBI. First baseman Matt Krupa (jr. Mahwah, NJ/Mahwah) and catcher Brian Cole (so. Hillsborough, NJ/Hillsborough) knocked in one run apiece. Designated hitter Steve Santigate (so. Marlboro, NJ/Marlboro) and Carello each touched the plate one time.
The Profs began the scoring in the opening frame when Strickland brought home Kokos with a single to left center. Kean gained the upper hand with two runs in the second. Polizzano scored on Cole's groundout and Walker plated Santigate with a base hit up the middle. The Cougars had their final tally in the third. Krupa hit a 1-0 pitch up the middle and Carello came home.