JERSEY CITY, N.J. (NJCUGothicKnights.com) | On Senior Day 2018, senior first baseman Dan Berardi crushed a game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to even the game at 8-8 and the New Jersey City University baseball team loaded the bases with no outs before winning in walkoff fashion on a sacrifice fly as the Gothic Knights rallied in their last at bat to defeat Moravian College, 9-8, in a non-conference game on May 5 at the Thomas M. Gerrity Athletic Complex.
NJCU extended its single-season team record with its 21st win (21-18) while sending Moravian (18-20) to defeat. NJCU has now won 39 games in the last two seasons—also a single-season record for a two-year stretch—and breaks the program record for wins in a three-year period with its 54th, surpassing the 1986 through 1988 teams (53). The current senior class has won a record 71 games since 2015 under seventh-year head coach Jerry Smith.
NJCU led 3-0 before the Greyhounds tied it with two runs in the top of the seventh. Berardi put NJCU ahead 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh before Moravian plated five runs in the top of the eighth, when it sent 11 batters to the plate, and led 8-5. NJCU got a run back in the bottom of the eighth and trailed 8-6 heading into its final at bat.
After sophomore third baseman Lenin Gomez struck out to lead off the ninth but reached on a wild pitch, Berardi drilled a no-doubt-about-it homer on a 3-1 pitch deep beyond the left field fence to tie the game at 8-8. The Moravian left fielder just turned and never moved as the ball sailed well more than 400 feet and landed in the marshland behind the second fence that separates the Society Hill development from the Gerrity Complex.
Still with no outs, junior second baseman Tom Pulcine singled through the right side on a 3-2 pitch. Junior right fielder Jesse Kraft singled to right center to put runners on the corners and junior designated hitter Matt Corsi was intentionally walked to load the bases after a defensive indifference. After a strikeout, freshman shortstop Ryan Guthrie delivered, lining a 2-1 pitch to moderate straight-away center field; it was deep enough to easily score Pulcine with a game-winning sac fly.
Prior to the game, NJCU honored Berardi, senior left-handed pitcher/center fielder Mike Ramirez, senior lefty Kyle Kafer and senior right-handed pitcher Dan Foley—all of whom contributed to the win.
Berardi entered the day needing three RBIs to become the fourth player in school history to produce 100 career RBIs and he exceeded that with five RBIs—a bases-loaded walk in the fifth, the two-run double in the seventh inning that gave NJCU a 5-3 lead and the game-tying blast in the ninth that ignited the comeback.
Berardi finished 3-for-5 with the five RBIs, a walk and run scored. He upped his career totals to 157 hits, 39 doubles, 15 homers and 102 RBIs. He moved into second place in school history in homers. He had four or more RBIs in a game for the fourth time this season and seventh time in his career, and matched his career high with five ribbies.
Ramirez generated three RBIs out of the leadoff spot, batting 1-for-3 with a walk and Kraft was 2-for-5. Gomez scored twice.
Junior righty Sean Gibney was the winner in relief, improving to 2-1. In 1.1 innings, he allowed just two hits while facing seven batters. Foley opened the game, throwing 2.1 shutout inning with a strikeout and five hits. Kafer went 5.1 innings, allowing six earned runs with three strikeouts.
Moravian outhit NJCU, 17-12, despite not scoring until the sixth inning. It singled to lead off the first four innings of the game. Sophomore second baseman Ian Csencsits (Northampton, N.J.) paced the Greyhounds, batting 4-for-6 with two doubles three RBIs and two runs scored.
Junior left fielder Mike Mittl (Bethlehem, Pa.) had two RBIs and batted 3-for-4 and sophomore right fielder Carmine Palummo (Chester, N.Y.) was 3-for-4 (1 run). Junior center fielder Austin Markowski (Neshanic Station, N.J.) added two RBIs and two runs (1-for-4). Senior first baseman Logan Welles (Belvidere, N.J.) and freshman shortstop Michael Miceli (Branchburg, N.J.) each batted 2-for-5.
Moravian used six pitchers in the loss, combining for 15 strikeouts. Senior righty Dan Morrin (Doylestown, Pa.) struck out four of the seven batters he faced in 2.0 no-hit innings and senior lefty Nicholas Mazzella (Bethlehem, Pa.) struck out three in 2.0 innings. Sophomore righty Connor Morro (Bethlehem, Pa.) ultimately lost the game (1-1), giving up four runs and four hits with three K's in the final 1.2 innings.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- In the first inning, Moravian got back-to-back singles and had runners on the corner before a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play ended the inning. NJCU went 1-2-3 in its first at bat, with two K's by Morrin.
- After two hits in the Moravian second inning, a failed sac bunt saw junior catcher Jan Castellano gun down the lead runner at third and a 1-4-3 double play ended the inning.
- Still scoreless in the fifth, NJCU scored three times to seize a 3-0 lead. Junior designated hitter Mike Albunia led off with a single to short. Freshman Mike O'Donnell pinch ran and when Moravian tried to pick him off first, the throw went into right field, advancing the runner. Castellano walked on four pitches. A failed fielder's choice on a sac bunt by Guthrie loaded the bases and Ramirez scorched a line-drive, two-run single off the leg of the MC second baseman and into right field to put NJCU ahead 2-0. After sophomore left fielder Bill Feehan was hit by a 3-0 pitch to load the bases. Berardi drew a four-pitch bases loaded walk, his 98th career RBI, to make it 3-0. A 4-6-3 double play got Moravian out of the inning.
- In the sixth, Markowski walked, Welles singled, and after a sacrifice, a pinch-hit ground ball broke up the shutout bid. Kafer struck out the final batter of the inning looking to strand runners on the corners.
- In the seventh, Palummo singled with one out and scored on a double into the gap in right center. Kafer caught Welles, who had two hits in previous at bats, looking for the second out but Mittl singled up the middle to tie it at 3-3. Kafer struck out the next batter to get out of trouble with two runners on.
- In the bottom of the seventh, Feehan walked and on a bloop single into right field by Gomez, Feehan aggressively went all the way to third. Berardi ripped a 1-1 pitch to deep left center, scoring both runners with his 99th and 100th career RBIs to give the Knights a 5-3 lead. Junior righty Brendon Caraway (Riegelsville, Pa.) wound up striking out three in the inning but was on the wrong side of a 5-3 score.
- For the moment, the game turned around in the eighth, as the Greyhounds sent 11 batters to the plate and scored five runs on five hits, aided by a pair of NJCU errors. After a leadoff single, an error on a sacrifice put runners on the corners and Miceli dropped down a bunt single to load the bases with no outs. After a pop out, Csencsits doubled to deep right to tie the game and on the next pitch, Markowski slipped a double down the left field line to put Moravian on top for the first time in the game, 7-5.
- With two outs, Gibney came in to pitch, and Mittl fought off an 0-2 pitch the opposite way through the right side for an 8-5 lead.
- Down by three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Corsi pinch hit and lined the first pitch to left field and Castellano walked on four pitches. A sac fly by Ramirez allowed NJCU to trim the deficit to 8-6, setting up the dramatic ninth inning.
- Postgame interview: https://www.facebook.com/NJCUGothicKnights/videos/10155877079719915/
- NJCU guaranteed its first winning season since going 19-14 as an independent team [non-New Jersey Athletic Conference] in 2005.
- Now with 157 hits, Dan Berardi moved past Dave Long (1987-90, 154 hits) and former teammate Nick Ruscingno (2014-17, 154 hits) and into ninth place in school history.
- Berardi is second in school history with 39 doubles (14 this season).
- Berardi tied Rob Sumner (2005-08) for second place in school history with 15 homers.
- Berardi trails Rob Sumner and former teammate Andrew Niech (2013-16) with 104 RBIs and Hall-of-Famer Rich Levins (1986-88, 126 RBIs) on the all-time list.
- Berardi's 42 RBIs this season are fourth in single-season history [50, Alex Weinstein, 2015; 48, Rich Levens, 1988; 44, Jose Fulgencio, 2007].
- Berardi moved into fifth place in school history in total bases with 247, passing Phil Zaffarano (1994-97, 242 total bases).
- NJCU won without its top two leaders in batting average, junior shortstop Nick LoGatto and sophomore right fielder Juan Pena in the lineup. LoGatto missed his second straight game with an injury and Pena did not play for the first time all season.
- With Pena missing the game, Berardi and Tom Pulcine are the only players who have played and started all 39 games for NJCU this season.
NJCU is eligible for the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III Tournament and those pairings will be announced on Monday, May 7 with opening-round games played on Wednesday, May 9. NJCU will be seeking its first postseason berth since 2005.
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