DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Felician University baseball team erased a 13-3 deficit before falling, 14-13, to host Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Game 2 of the teams' non-conference doubleheader on Saturday at Sliwa Stadium. Embry-Riddle (5-2) also won the day's opening game, 17-3.
Felician (0-3) is ranked No. 4 in the preseason NCAA Division II East Region writers' poll.
Senior left fielder Matt Diesel (Massapequa Park, N.Y.) went 5 for 9 with two doubles on the day for the Golden Falcons. Embry-Riddle combined to hit seven home runs in the doubleheader, including three by junior second baseman Kyle Marsh (Port Orange, Fla.).
Despite the second game being scheduled for, and completed in, seven innings, the pair of contests lasted seven hours, 10 minutes.
For the third time in as many games in the weekend series, Felician scored first in Saturday's nightcap. Armando Ovalles (Union City, N.J.) led off the top of the third inning with a double, was sacrificed to third base, and came on Bruce Strickland's (Hazlet, N.J.) sacrifice fly.
The Eagles, however, needed only four hits to plate seven runs in the bottom of the fourth. ERAU was helped by two Golden Falcon errors, a hit batsman, and two wild pitches, and Jake Malone (Maple Valley, Wash.) had an RBI triple.
The visitors sliced into their deficit when Strickland wrapped a ball around the left field foul pole for a one-out, two run home run in the fifth, but the Eagles seemed to have taken control when Marsh's grand slam capped a six-run uprising in the home half of the fifth for a 13-3 ERAU lead.
The Golden Falcons breathed life into their chances with a two-out rally in the sixth. They loaded the bases with one out and without a hit. Following a pitching change and a strikeout, Strickland walked, and L.T. Struble (Hammonton, N.J.) followed with a three-run triple. When Struble scored on a wild pitch, Felician had cut the deficit in half, 13-8.
Freshman right-hander Tyler Pepper (Shoreham, N.Y.) entered to escape a two-on, one-out jam, but Felician had just three outs with which to work. Again the Golden Falcons filled the bases with one out, this time on a single, error and walk. Everyone moved up a base on Mike Martone's (Brick, N.J.) pinch single, and did so again when Ron Sessa (Chester, N.J.) was hit by a pitch. A pitching change did little to slow the rally, as Strickland doubled home two runs. Struble followed with a single up the middle, scoring Sessa to tie the game, but Eagle center fielder Kyle Guttveg (Palm City, Fla.) cut down Strickland at the plate as the potential go-ahead run.
The inning ended on a groundout, and the teams entered the bottom of the seventh improbably tied at 13-13. But Marsh led off the frame by blasting a 2-and-2 Pepper offering over the left field fence to end the contest 3 hours, 20 minutes, after its first pitch.
Each pitching staff issued eight walks. Strickland was 2 for 3 with six RBI, and Struble finished 2 for 4 with four RBI. Marsh, who drove in five runs, was one of five Eagles with two hits apiece.
In the opener, six Felician pitchers gave up 11 hits, 12 walks, and four hit batsman and four Golden Falcon errors led to five unearned runs in the lopsided loss. Embry-Riddle scored in seven of its eight offensive innings -- all but the first -- and put up multiple runs in six of them.
Felician junior Jason Aponte (Loxahatchee, Fla.) reached on a first-inning error and was brought home by a Diesel double. But the Eagles quickly jumped out on top with a three-run second, drawing four walks in the inning.
After four innings, ERAU led, 8-1. The Golden Falcons received a Diesel RBI single and a sacrifice fly from Anthony Santoro (Freehold, N.J.) in the fifth, but Joe Lucas' (Chicago, Ill.) two-run single capped a four-run fifth for the Eagles for a 12-3 edge. ERAU homered four times in the final three stanzas, including back-to-back shots by Joaquin Sequeira (Sacramento, Calif.) and Christian Jaworski (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) in the eighth, for the final margin.
Diesel was 3 for 4 and sophomore catcher Carlos Bermudez (Miami, Fla.) went 2 for 3 for Felician. Marsh went 1 for 1 with a two-run homer, three walks, and three RBI and Guttveg was 2 for 3 plus two walks and scored three times for the Eagles.
Felician and ERAU conclude their four-game weekend series with a 1 p.m. tilt on Sunday in Daytona Beach.