NEW PALTZ, N.Y. (NJCUGothicKnights.com) | With only a rescheduled Senior Day remaining on the calendar, the New Jersey City University baseball team won their final road game of the 2019 season, junior left-handed pitcher TJ MacFarland (Lacey, NJ/Lacey) and sophomore righty Gavin Niland (Paramus, NJ/Paramus Catholic) combined on a five-hit shutout as NJCU blanked SUNY New Paltz, 5-0, on May 1.
MacFarland was dominant on the mound as the southpaw tossed 7.1 shutout innings, limiting the Hawks to just four hits and four walks, while fanning three for his first win as a Gothic Knight (1-2) in his first season at NJCU. The Gothic Knights (15-22) snapped a six-game slide, sending New Paltz (13-19) to defeat on its Senior Day.
In the bottom of the eighth, MacFarland got the first out before an error and a walk put men on first and second and led to head coach Jerry Smith calling on Niland to come in for the final five outs. Niland was more than up to the task, quickly retiring the Hawks in the eighth, and then working around a double and a walk in the ninth to preserve the 5-0 shutout win for NJCU.
On the offensive side of things, junior right fielder Juan Pena (Perth Amboy, NJ/Perth Amboy) tallied a pair of hits, scoring a run and knocking one in as well, as part of a 2-for-4 day. He also stole his 35th base of the season. With the steal, Pena moved into sole possession of second place on the NJCU all-time single-season steals leaderboard, passing Carmine Turso, who went 34-for-39 on the basepaths in 1995. The single-season record is 40 thefts by Rob Sumner who was 40-for-45 in 2006.
The top of the lineup led the way on offense for the Knights, as each of the Knights' first five hitters collected a hit and at least one run or RBI, with senior third baseman Tom Pulcine (Hazlet, NJ/Raritan) going 1-for-3 with a run and an RBI, and sophomore second baseman Brandon Rivera (Aberdeen, NJ/Matawan Regional), making just his ninth start of the season, driving in two—his second straight two-RBI game.
Both pitchers started the game off well, with neither team allowing a run through the first three innings. The Knights, for their part, went down in order each inning, while MacFarland had to dance out of trouble in the first, but a big one-out strikeout kept New Paltz off the board.
The Knights opened things up in the fourth inning, with a leadoff error being punished by a Pena single. Pena stole second and got to third on an error, eventually coming around to score on a Rivera sac fly.
The Knights proceeded to add an insurance run in each of the next three innings, taking their lead from 2-0 all the way up to 5-0. With MacFarland dealing, that was all the offense the Knights would need. Junior Bill Feehan (Point Pleasant, NJ/Point Pleasant Boro), getting a start in left field for only the third time all year in an injury-plagued season, made it 3-0 in the fifth with a sac fly that scored senior center fielder Jesse Kraft (Nutley, NJ/Saint Mary-Rutherford), who led off with a single and stole second.
In the sixth, senior shortstop Nick LoGatto (Helmetta, NJ/Spotswood) led off with a single and scored all the way from first on an RBI single by Rivera. A sacrifice fly by Pulcine in the seventh made it 5-0 as NJCU scored for the fourth consecutive inning.
The Knights will host NYU (24-11) for their 2019 Senior Day on Friday, May 3 with first pitch scheduled for 3:30 p.m. The Knights have 10 seniors on this year's squad who will be honored before the game begins.
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