Baseball Shut Down by NJCU in Back End of Home-and-Home Set, 4-2

Box Score

Little Falls, NJ (4/29/11) – Senior righthander Wendell Rodriguez (Jersey City, NJ / County Prep) pitched a complete-game three-hitter as New Jersey City University, which snapped an 11-game losing streak to Montclair State on Wednesday, made it two straight over the Red Hawks with a 4-2 win at Yogi Berra Stadium on Friday sweeping the NJAC home-and-home series.

Senior rightfielder Jorge Gutierrez (Sewaren, NJ / Hudson Catholic) drove in the go-ahead score in the two-run ninth inning as the Gothic Knights improved to 8-27 overall, 3-13 in the NJAC.

The loss for Montclair State, its third straight, came at an inopportune time as the Red Hawks are battling for one of the remaining NJAC playoffs spots. After today, MSU (15-14) sits in the sixth and final spot at 7-7 in the league, a game ahead of William Paterson (6-8). Montclair will close out its conference slate with road doubleheaders at The College of New Jersey and Richard Stockton on Saturday (April 30) and Sunday (May 1), respectively.

Rodriguez, who earlier this season lost a 1-0 decision to fourth-ranked Kean University on the road,  entered Friday’s game at 1-7 on the season, but put together and outstanding performance as he gave up three singles and allowed only seven runners to reach base. He struck out two and walked two in his 119-pitch performance as none of the three Montclair hits led to a run.

Montclair State manufactured a run in the bottom of the first as Mickey McGraw (Morristown, NJ / Morristown) led off with a walk, moved to second on a sacrifice and to third on a wild pitch before coming home on Kevin Bond’s (Cedar Grove, NJ / Cedar Grove) sacrifice fly. 

Rodriguez would then shut down the Red Hawks as he retired 10-of-11 batters at one point through the next four innings as only two MSU batters reached base – Matt Moreno (Park Ridge, NJ / Park Ridge) on a one-out error in the second and Bond on a wicked hop single down the third base line in the fourth, the Red Hawks only hit until McGraw’s one-out single in the eighth.

Meanwhile, the Gothic Knights were getting plenty of hits but could not manage any runs against MSU starter Alex Lesch (Clifton, NJ / Clifton) in the first four innings despite leaving six runners on in its first four at bats.  NJCU would finally get a run in the fifth as Ken Witte (Wantage, NJ / High Point) walked with one out, stole second and scored as Francisco Ramirez (Jersey City, NJ / Hudson Catholic) singled back through the middle tying the game at 1-1.

NJCU took the lead the following inning loading the bases with no outs. Brian Bustillo (Jersey City, NJ / Hudson Catholic) lofted a sacrifice fly for a 2-1 lead however the Gothic Knights couldn’t cash in further as lefty Sean Hille (Edison, NJ / St. Joseph’s (Metuchen)) got the final two outs. 

Montclair retied the game in the seventh with another manufactured run. This time it was Cody Pace (Milltown, NJ / Spotswood) leading off with a walk. He stole second and went to third on a sacrifice before scoring on Jason Chesterman’s (Bloomfield, NJ / Bloomfield) RBI ground out as the game was knotted at 2-2. 

In the ninth, NJCU came up with the two runs.  Witte led off the inning with a hustle double and Ramirez singled to put runners on the corners. Gutierrez lifted the sac fly for the go-ahead run and Ramirez took second as the throw home got away. Ramirez would go to third on a passed ball and scored the insurance run as Fiorentino singled through the right side for a 4-2 lead. 

Rodriguez made that stand up as he allowed a one-out single in the ninth before retiring the next two hitters for the complete-game victory.

Fiorentino was 3-for-4 while Andrew Rivera (Edison, NJ / Edison) was 3-for-5. Rob Gonzalez (Brick, NJ / Brick Memorial), Witte, Ramirez and Gutierrez all had two apiece as the Gothic Knights, who collected 20 hits in their 15-3 win on Wednesday, registered 15 in Friday’s game.

Righthander  reliever Jake Campbell (Sayreville, NJ / Sayreville War) took the loss for MSU falling to 0-2.