Baseball first in NJAC after winning four of five

Infielder Ryan Williams gets ready for a pitch in a 23-7 win over Rutgers-Newark on April 12. Williams was named NJAC player of the week after hitting .538 with 10 RBI and 11 runs scored. -Staff photo/Louis Gormley

Infielder Ryan Williams gets ready for a pitch in a 23-7 win over Rutgers-Newark on April 12. Williams was named NJAC player of the week after hitting .538 with 10 RBI and 11 runs scored. -Staff photo/Louis Gormley

As the playoffs rapidly approach and the postseason picture becomes more clear with every game, the Rowan baseball team sits atop the New Jersey Athletic Conference with a 19-6 overall record and 7-3 in conference.

After playing a five-game stretch between April 10-13 and having rain postpone a game on April 15 against Neumann University, Rowan is doing its best to stay on schedule with makeup games as well as maintaining conference play.

Head coach Juan Ranero and company have been preparing hard for the NJAC tournament.

The Profs’ week of play opened with a 11-9 loss against NJAC rival Rutgers-Camden. Sophomore right-hander Andrew Lysy gave up eight runs in 2.1 innings pitched. Junior shortstop Ryan Williams had a stellar game in the losing effort, going 4-for-5 with four RBI and two runs.

“Had we done what we needed to do on the mound, it would have helped us cash in later in the game, Ranero said.”

Friday saw Rowan rebound with a 3-2 victory over the Scarlet Raptors in Camden. Junior right-hander Dylan Johannink went 7 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on seven hits with nine strikeouts. Senior catcher Connor Grant was 1-for-2 with two RBI and a walk in the victory. As consistent as ever, junior co-captain Ryan Easterday believes that finding a groove comes with playing this many games.

“Playing a lot of games in the same week helps this team,” Easterday said. “We get into a groove and feed off the energy we have played with game in and game out.”

On Saturday, the Profs squared off against Rutgers-Newark in a doubleheader in which Rowan won both games.

In the first game, Easterday earned the victory after seven innings of four-hit ball with no runs allowed. Williams was 3-5 with three RBI and three runs scored in the 10-6 win.

In the second game, the Profs routed the Scarlet Raiders 23-7 as junior lefty Ryan Sharkey earned the victory after giving up just one run on seven hits in six innings. First baseman Rich Powelson was 5-5 on the day with three RBI, three runs scored and one walk.

With the bats hot, senior co-captain Scott Bruno believes this streak can stay alive throughout the year.

“Coach always talks about staying balanced and driving the ball the other way,” Bruno said. “If we keep that up we can potentially have a very long season ahead of us.”

The last of Rowan’s games came on Sunday as the Profs dispatched out of conference Alvernia University 10-7. Junior Matt Nelson improved to 2-1 on the season while Williams had another stellar day at the plate, going 4-6 with one RBI and two runs scored.

Senior co-captain Mark Benak also had a strong performance with two hits on six at-bats and six RBI.

“After winning the NJAC tournament last year and being ranked nationally, we know we have a target on our back. Teams want to beat us,” Benak said. “This pushes us and keeps us on our toes. Our first goal of the year is to host the NJAC tournament by finishing first in the regular season, so we are pretty excited that we are putting ourselves in position to do so.”

Rowan hosts New Jersey City University on April 17 in Glassboro.

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