Rowan baseball splits with TCNJ, sweeps Kean on senior night

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The Rowan baseball team enjoyed a productive week that included a split-series against The College of New Jersey and a doubleheader sweep of Kean University on Sunday. 

TCNJ, who stands atop the New Jersey Athletic Conference standings, stole the first game against the Profs on Thursday, winning 9-2. The Lions would go up 7-0 before Rowan would got on the board in the bottom frame of the sixth.

“We got down early and didn’t have a great start by [Eric] Shugars,” said head coach Mike Dickson. “They got on him early, and generally when that happens, you tend to go to the back-end of your bullpen. You’re going to the younger guys that haven’t pitched as much, because if you lose 9-2 or 5-0, you don’t want to burn your top-bullpen guys.”

Dickson and the Profs would win the second game of the series, 5-4, on Friday, backed by a stellar outing from senior Brad Machinski, giving him his fifth win of the season. Rowan fell behind 2-1 in the third, but Frankie Aiello started a fifth inning rally with a solo shot — his first of the year. The Profs scored three more in the frame giving them enough to win the game and split the series.

Next up was a home doubleheader against Kean on Sunday. Rowan celebrated Senior Day before their first matchup, honoring outfielders Shane Brown and Jason Clapper, infielder Matt Jolly, and pitchers Rob Grilli and Brad Machinski.

Both the Profs and Cougars stood at 7-5 in the NJAC and tied for the fourth-seed in the upcoming playoffs. Rowan would take care of business in the first game of the series, 9-2. There was no hesitation when it came to getting up on the board, as they took a commanding 8-0 lead throughout the first three innings. The Cougars would score in the seventh and eighth, but it wasn’t enough to worry Rowan.

Game two was a different, yet fitting story. Sophomore Andrew Cartier tossed six strong innings, allowing five hits and a lone run. Both teams scored a run in the sixth inning, but the brown and gold took a 2-1 lead in the eighth with a Steven Hewa double-play ball that forced a run home. Kean would not back down, tying the game with a single in the top of the ninth, and with Rowan unable to respond, the game was sent to extras.

With the bases loaded, Matt Jolly came up to the plate. The senior, with a chance to win on Senior Night, wouldn’t have the moment go to waste. A single up the middle brought the game-winning run across the plate, and the Rowan bench swarming Jolly in celebration.

“The sweep on Sunday goes back to us playing well on Friday,” Dickson said. “I challenged the guys after the game on Thursday that we need to play more as a team, and we rallied off of that. The seniors came out and stepped up and I was proud at how they competed. It was good for us to see the older guys compete and see the younger ones follow suit.”

The Profs are now 25-11 overall with a 9-5 NJAC standing, giving them the three-seed as of now. Two games against New Jersey City University and William Paterson University are all that remains on their schedule.

“I think the team is jelling at the right time,” Dickson said. “I feel good going into the upcoming week, but it’ll depend upon us pitching, playing defense, and the seniors stepping up.”

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