The Rowan baseball team continued to roll through the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) on Friday, April 14, slugging their way to an 8-3 win over The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) and picking up their sixth consecutive conference win in the process. The Profs had won the day prior on TCNJ’s home turf, as well, by a score of 14-11.
After getting swept by William Paterson to open up NJAC play for 2023, the team has seemingly found its groove, and Head Coach Mike Dickson attributes their hitting as the key for their recent success.
“We’ve hit. We scored 14 runs yesterday, scored eight today, 20 something against Montclair [State] and 20 something against New Jersey City,” Dickson said. “We’ve definitely hit, we talked about that after yesterday’s game. We know we should be one of the best hitting teams in the country; if we can pitch and play defense constantly, we’re tough to beat.”
The hitting started early for the Profs on Friday, as Tyler Cannon ripped a two-out, two-RBI double down the third base line in the bottom of the second to give Rowan a 2-1 advantage.
Phil Sedalis followed suit with an opposite field home run, sending a 2-1 fastball over the “National Champions” banner in right field. After going 0-6 in yesterday’s win, Sedalis knew he needed to get back to the basics at the plate.
“I think yesterday I had a pretty bad day, so I took it a little personal today and I just had to change my approach,” Sedalis said. “Yesterday, I was very out in front of everything and I didn’t really trust myself. So coming into today, I just let the ball get as deep as possible and was just trying to drive everything out to right field. Good things come when you stick to your approach.”
His success at the plate didn’t stop after the second inning homer either, as the Profs center fielder led off the fifth with a leadoff triple, which set up Anthony Schooley for an RBI single. Later, in the seventh inning, Sedalis crushed his second home run of the game, this time pulling an 0-2 breaking ball to left center field.
The long ball was a common theme for the Profs on Friday, as Dylan Maria and Ryan Murphy both added solo shots to help bolster the Profs’ offense. For Murphy, who missed roughly two weeks due to a nagging foot injury, a home run in his second game back was a great way to get back in the groove.
“There’s a lot of mid-game adjustments that you have to make,” Murphy said. “Especially when your first couple of at-bats come and they don’t go the way you want them to, you have to mentally stay positive. It’s one of those things where baseball is a chess game; if you start thinking too much, you just have to go up there and hit sometimes, so I stuck to my approach and felt pretty good.”
After getting some action in right field and running around the bases, Murphy felt no physical limitations. While some athletes may hesitate to get back out on the field, the Profs slugger had no doubt about coming back.
“The last two weeks have been really tough for me,” Murphy said. “Especially coming to support the team is one of my goals and just being here everyday is a goal for me, and these guys really rely on a lot of guys to pick them up. I’m really happy just to be around everyday, no matter if I’m injured, on the bench, whatever it is. It’s a good vibe to come out here and support one another.
Although senior right-hander Jason O’Neill got the start on the hill for the Profs, it was reliever Mike Shannon who stole the show, as the 6’1” righty threw six innings of one run ball, while giving up four hits, walking one and striking out five.
“He was great. He had a four or five pitch mix today; fastball, slider, cutter, changeup, and was throwing strikes with all of them,” Dickson said. “Obviously when you do that, it’s tough to hit, so I like where he’s at right now.”
Now with the end of the season fastly approaching, Murphy believes the best is yet to come.
“This team is going to come together. It’s a really slow start, we’re 20-7, I believe, and we really haven’t even gotten it going yet,” Murphy said. “We haven’t had all four cylinders [pitching, hitting, fielding, defense] rolling, and sometimes we’ll just have certain parts; two of the four, sometimes one of the four, sometimes three of the four. But we need four out of the four, and that’s going to be coming around soon.”
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