Baseball wins home opener following successful Florida swing

Infielder Mark Benak attempts a double play in a 3-0 win over Stevens Institute of Technology on March 23. The Profs will enter New Jersey Athletic Conference play at 13-3 overall.-Staff photo/Louis Gormley

Infielder Mark Benak attempts a double play in a 3-0 win over Stevens Institute of Technology on March 23. The Profs  currently sit at 10-3 overall.-Staff photo/Louis Gormley

With the 2014 spring break over, Rowan’s baseball team returned to campus from its trip to Florida for its home opener and shut out Stevens Institute of Technology, 3-0, on March 23.

With the win and a successful road trip last week, the Profs now sit with a 10-3 record. Rowan also ranks as the eighth best team in the nation according to D3baseball.com, and 15th by the American Baseball Coaches Association poll.

At the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational, the Profs started off the trip with a 12-6 win against Eastern Connecticut State University on March 15. Infielder Casey Grimes had four RBIs on six hits with two runs on the day.

FDU-Florham University suffered an 11-5 defeat against the Profs on March 16, as the team combined for 13 hits.

On March 17, Rowan dominated SUNY Oneonta 23-5 in seven innings. Grimes contributed five RBIs on four hits and two home runs while senior left fielder Eric Sellitto had three RBIs on two hits with a homer of his own.

The Profs incurred their first loss of the year to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point 12-10 after junior reliever Johnny Dunn allowed five earned runs in 0.2 innings pitched.

Rowan split a doubleheader with Gallaudet University on March 19, losing the first game 2-0 thanks to Gallaudet infielder JJ Klein, who drove in two runs. The second game, they rebounded to triumph 12-3 in seven innings as the Profs rallied for nine unanswered runs in the bottom of the sixth.

Co-captain Scott Bruno lead the team with two RBIs in a 8-2 dispatching of Ripon College on March 20, while the Profs finished out their trip to the Sunshine State with a 2-1 edging of the University of Southern Maine on March 21. Bruno emphasized that the losses were only because of the lack of a serious approach.

“I think we came in a little lackadaisical and we weren’t expecting them to be as good as they were,” said outfielder Bruno.

On March 24 against Penn State Abington, things didn’t go as smoothly, as Rowan fell 4-3 on a walk-off hit in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Profs left a whopping 11 runners on base throughout the day. Head coach Juan Ranero attributed the loss to both adjusting to the weather and absentees due to injury or prior obligation.

“It’s tough because you’re playing every single day while you’re in Florida,” Ranero said. “So you get beat up a little bit and you come back and the weather is cold and you’re trying to play. I had to have a couple guys not there because they were in class. I had a couple guys that we sat out because of injuries.”

Co-captain Ryan Easterday also believed that the loss came down to bad timing.

“We just didn’t play our best game,” said junior right-hander Easterday. “We had 11 hits, they just weren’t timely hits. We just didn’t play the type of baseball that we usually play.”

In the future, co-captain Mark Benak hopes his team’s attitude will change. Although Benak sat out at Penn State Abington with an ankle sprain, he claims responsibility.

“As a captain and as the leader of the team, I need to make sure that we’re ready to play no matter what,” Benak said. “We need to make sure [that something like this] doesn’t happen again.”

Rowan will open New Jersey Athletic Conference play this weekend when the Profs travel to Ramapo on March 29.

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