By Julian Bell
(TEANECK) – The men’s baseball team won all four of their home games against Mount St. Mary’s from April 7 – April 9, the first time FDU swept a team 4-0 since 2009.
The Knights (8-14, 6-1 NEC) entered their Northeast Conference debut strong against the Mountaineers, including winning both games of a Saturday afternoon doubleheader.
Knights Head Coach Gary Puccio said his team’s pitching made all the difference.
“We had incredible starting pitching this weekend, which is the key to being good,” Puccio said.
Senior right-hander Logan Frati helped FDU to their first NEC win, after the Knights overcame the Mount 5-2 at home. Frati pitched for eight innings and posted an impressive 2.25 era on the afternoon.
“When your starting pitcher is going to go eight innings, and on every one of them, I think the most we gave up was three earned runs in any of the games,” Puccio said, “when you’re doing that you’re giving yourself a chance.”
The Mountaineers (4-21, 2-8 NEC) took an early lead in the first game of the series. After a scoreless first inning, Mount Saint Mary’s freshman catcher Sean Kelly hit a double to left center. Sophomore outfielder Dennis Stewart advanced to third base, while third baseman Vaun Parker II scored on the play. Another hit allowed senior outfielder Zach Hostetter to advance from third and score, putting The Mount up 2-0 in the bottom of the second inning.
The Knights responded in the third inning after senior shortstop Matt McCann scored on a throwing error. Then freshman outfielder Brandon Seltzer scored an unearned run, allowing FDU to tie the game 2-2 by the end of the third.
The scoring continued in the fifth inning after Knights junior third baseman Bobby Romano scored. Once the Knights secured a 3-2 lead, The Mount was unable to recover. Freshman infielder Jorge Iza hit a homer to center field, which closed the game out in the sixth with FDU up 5-2. Iza has three home runs and 9 RBI so far.
The Knights continued their offensive assault in their doubleheader on April 8, despite falling behind in the second game. FDU won 4-1 in the first game and 6-5 over The Mount in the second.
Coach Puccio said his team remained disciplined during the deficit.
“We were down 4-0 and then we scored one in the fourth,” Puccio said. “Then in the bottom of the sixth, it was only a seven-inning game, we scored four runs. We teach our kids not to worry about the win and loss and not to go by the score. We follow that philosophy, what we teach the hitters, what we want you to do. One of the lines you’ll hear them say is pass it to the next guy, keep getting the next guy out because that means we’re getting more baserunners and we’re scoring some runs.”
Senior southpaw Danny Demetrops pitched for six innings in game one and leads his team with a 3.09 era on the season. Demetrops did not allow an earned run in the victory over The Mountaineers.
Both teams were off to a slow start in the first game of the doubleheader. Pitching for Mount St. Mary’s was senior Zach Call who, along with Demetrops, pitched for four innings before either team scored.
The Knights opened up the game with scoring in the fifth and sixth innings. Romano hit a double to left field, which gave FDU their first run of the contest. Brennan followed suit with a single to left field that gave the Knights another run. Then, sophomore catcher Evan McDonald hit a single to right field before freshman catcher Owen Vonesslinger hit a sacrifice fly, which gave FDU a 4-0 lead by the bottom of the fifth.
The Mount managed only one run for the contest, and fell to the Knights 4-1.
In the second game, the Knights came out on top, 6-5. On Sunday, April 9, the Knights crushed the Mountaineers 15-2.
But the going gets tough for the Knights moving forward. Puccio said his team will have their work cut out for them against Sacred Heart.
“That’s going to be an uphill battle,” Puccio said. “Last year we broke Sacred Heart’s streak. They’ve gone to the championship game seven years in a row, and we knocked them out in the semifinals last year to get to the championship. I’m sure they’re going to be hot to get us too, so that’s going to be a real tough series.”