Rowan baseball opens conference play with a doubleheader split against Kean

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Karson Harcourt hustling down the line. The junior clubbed a huge two-run double in game two of the Profs' doubleheader on Saturday, March 30. - Photo via Rowan Athletics

A New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) doubleheader commenced on Saturday, March 30 between No. 6 ranked Rowan Profs and the 12-7 Kean Cougars.

Game one featured a pitcher duel between Rowan’s Mike Shannon and Kean’s Nolan Rowan. Both Shannon and Rowan came into the game on the heels of a sensational season, with Shannon sporting a 3-0 record and Nolan having a 4-1 record of his own.

Giving opposing hitters trouble quickly became a common theme, as both Shannon and Nolan threw a complete game. It took a fourth-inning double by Kean’s Phil Marcantonio to score the game’s only run for either team.

Shannon didn’t let the setback throw a wrench in his outing, as he threw five shutout innings from that point on and struck out 11 batters overall, but the senior suffered his first loss of the season due to the Profs being unable to get going offensively, mustering together just five hits and leaving six men on base en route to a 1-0 loss.

Head coach Mike Dickson expressed disappointment that the Profs’ offense didn’t do enough to support Shannon’s performance.

“Shannon was outstanding on Saturday,” Dickson said. “It was our offense for not scoring behind him, but he did everything he needed to put us in position to win.”

Senior third baseman Anthony Schooley mentioned the windy weather giving the Profs some trouble at the plate.

“We really weren’t on our usual approach. Nolan [Rowan] did a great job of getting us under his pitches, and on a windy day it forced a lot of us to pop up,” Schooley said. “We’re a long ball team and when the ball wasn’t able to travel, we were unable to adjust and ended up dropping the game.”

A majority of game two mirrored game one, as it was another battle on the mound between Rowan’s Zach Coluccio and Kean’s Jason Gilman.

Gilman showcased his command on the mound, allowing zero hits and striking out 12 batters through six innings. After back-to-back one-run innings by Kean, they entered the bottom of the seventh with a 2-0 lead, on the verge of completing the doubleheader sweep against Rowan.

The Profs had other ideas though, as a leadoff double by junior outfielder Jason Morgan started to shift the momentum back into Rowan’s favor.

“When we saw how excited Morgan was at second, that really got our dugout into it,” Schooley said.

A walk by senior Dylan Maria and a sacrifice bunt by senior Pat Defeciani put two runners in scoring position and set up junior catcher Karson Harcourt with a big opportunity at the plate.

“Defeciani essentially was passing the torch to me, and that really gave me the confidence to make something happen,” Harcourt said. “I was able to work a 3-2 count, and the pitcher threw a heater down the middle that I was able to extend my hands to get to the ball.”

Harcourt’s hit went over JT Abrusci’s head in left field and led to a double that scored both Morgan and Maria to tie the game at two.

“When we tied the game up like that, everyone knew the momentum switched,” Schooley said.

Schooley was next up to the plate with a chance to give Rowan the lead for the first time all day.

“When I’m walking up to the plate in that situation, I’m just thinking I gotta do whatever I can to help the team, and it so happened to be a single,” Schooley said.

That single ended up scoring Harcourt to give the Profs a 3-2 lead entering the eighth, where Phil Sedalis added an insurance run via a solo home run to extend the Profs’ lead to 4-2.

Rowan produced back-to-back strong innings on the bump that was capped by junior Sean Colbert closing the door in the top of the ninth, securing his second save of the season and the doubleheader split for the Profs.

Now 17 games into 2024, the Profs possess a solid 13-4 record, and now set their sights on a back-to-back set against the 11-9 Stockton Ospreys.

The first game will take place on Thursday, April 4 in Galloway, New Jersey, and game two will take place on Friday, April 5 in Glassboro, New Jersey.

The Profs will be looking to adjust to the cold weather after playing ten games in Florida, and Dickson is confident that his team will be able to do so.

“The bats are gonna come around, it hasn’t been a great spring since we got back from Florida weather-wise to hit,” Dickson said. “Those balls are eventually going to fall, and I think as long as we continue to pitch and play defense we’re gonna be alright.”

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