Rowan Baseball keeps momentum rolling in 17-2 win against NJCU

Dylan Maria celebrates his grand slam. Maria hit two home runs and recorded eight RBIs against NJCU. Thursday, April 6, 2023. - Chris Taylor / Rowan Athletics

The Rowan baseball team picked up their first win of the season within the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) with a 17-2 routing of the New Jersey City University (NJCU) Gothic Knights on Thursday, April 6.

“Hopefully we can roll in the conference, get a couple more wins, keep it rolling from there,” utility-man Dylan Maria said.

The Profs carried their momentum from the wild come-from-behind win over Gwynedd Mercy University on April 4 into the game, as Maria opened with a no-doubt grand slam to deep left field to give Rowan an early 4-1 advantage.

“Last Tuesday, we kind of started off on the other end with Gwynedd Mercy scoring first on us, so I feel like us scoring early in the game like that kind of set the tone and gave us the momentum all the
way,” Maria said.

Head Coach Mike Dickson echoed his slugger’s thoughts about the momentum boost Maria’s slam provided the team.

“No question about it,” Dickson said. “We’re down on some arms so we knew we needed our offense to get going. [NJCU] get one in the first, and for us to be able to come back and get four in the first really help set the tone for what we wanted to do offensively.”

After burning through seven arms on the Gwynedd Mercy game, Coach Dickson turned to reliever Mike Shannon to make his first start of the season against NJCU. Even though he typically comes out of the bullpen, Shannon’s approach on the mound didn’t vary too much in his first start of 2023.

“Out of the pen, you have to be more precise with things because it could be a close game and
you want to do the best you can,” Shannon said. “But starting, you have a little more leeway. I know
that I have time for the offense to get some runs up, so I really wanted to just go out there and throw
strikes. Bottom line, that’s what I do every time, just try to throw strikes and get guys out.”

After allowing one run in the first, the senior right-hander settled in, allowing just one run across his final four frames while his offense lit up the scoreboard. The Profs opened the game with a two-out rally in the second and third inning to make it a 9-1 contest. Two-out rallies seemed to be the theme of the day, with Rowan scoring eight of their 17 runs with two outs.

“That’s something that Coach Dickson preaches to us as hitters because two-out hits, two-out RBIs, they’re back breakers for other teams,” Maria said. “I feel like especially Tuesday, we left a few guys on base with two outs, so we focused really hard in practice yesterday to get our timely hitting better.”

While everyone says hitting is contagious, Coach Dickson believes that the same could be said for the pitchers after the bullpen followed up Shannon’s day with just four base runners allowed in the final four innings.

“They say hitting is contagious, I think pitching is contagious as well,” Dickson said. “When guys
throw well, the guys behind him tend to throw well. When guys throw poorly, you tend to get guys behind him throwing poorly. Mike set the tone today with what he did, and then [Charlie] Russell came in and Braden [Waller] came in and Dylan [Maria] at the end, they all threw strikes, which is the key.”

Make no mistake about it — the hitting was also contagious for the Profs, as eight out of nine starters recorded at least one knock en route to their 19 hits as a team. Maria and Phil Sedalis, who was a home run shy of the cycle, led the team with four hits while Jason Morgan and Anthony Schooley both recorded three.

“I thought we did a really good job in our plate discipline,” Dickson said. “We were able to take breaking balls out of the zone and hit breaking balls in the zone, and hit fastballs that were mislocated. Really a credit to our guys of mentally being in there and understanding what we’re trying to do against those guys.”

In addition to his four knocks, Maria hit two home runs and drove in a career-high eight runs during their 17-2 win.

“I was just trying to do a job,” Maria said. “Whenever I see runners in scoring position, just try and get the ball in the air, move the runner over. Just try to do a job, that’s all.”

The Profs will look to pick up two more NJAC wins when they play host to Montclair State in a Saturday doubleheader on April 8.

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