RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Felician University baseball team captured the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) South Division regular-season title in 2018, and is the overall No. 1 seed for the upcoming conference championship tournament. During Saturday's single-elimination playdown round, Felician will the North Division's No. 4 seed, Concordia (N.Y.) College. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Lyndhurst Recreation Complex.
Guided by 15th-year head coach Chris Langan, Felician is seeking its third tournament title, having won in 2014 and 2016. The Golden Falcons (27-23, 25-7) are making their seventh consecutive playoff appearance, and the 15th in the 19-year history of the program.
Directions to Lyndhurst Rec can be viewed at www.felicianathletics.com/information/directions (second listing). As the contest is a CACC event, all fans will be charged admission of $6 for adults and $3 for children, students (with ID) and senior citizens. Children age three years and younger will be admitted free.
Felician expects to offer a live statistics feed at http://felicianathletics.com/sports/bsb/2017-18/boxscores/20180505_1u8d.xml and a free live video stream at https://portal.stretchinternet.com/felician/portal.htm?eventId=447531&streamType=video, both available shortly before the first pitch.
Felician is batting a CACC-best .301 as a team. League Player of the Year candidate Matt Diesel (Massapequa Park, N.Y./Massapequa) leads the East Region in batting average (.450), hits (81), doubles (25), and runs batted in (61), the latter three all single-season Golden Falcon records. Senior third baseman Bruce Strickland (Hazlet,N.J./Raritan) is batting .388, also has 25 doubles, has scored 54 runs and driven in 39. Junior shortstop L.T. Struble (Hammonton,N.J./Hammonton) is at .376 with 59 runs scored and 25 steals.
"Nothing we've done up this point really matters on Saturday with the one-game playoff format," Diesel said. "It's do or die and the better team that shows up that day will win and move on."
Felician's likely starting pitcher on Saturday is freshman right-hander Michael Gutierrez (Garfield, N.J./Garfield) (3-4, 3.71 ERA). The reigning CACC Rookie of the Week, Gutierrez enters the tournament as the conference's strikeout leader with 76.
Concordia (20-25, 16-16) is looking for its first league crown since joining the CACC in 2010. Senior catcher Joseph Davide (West Hempstead, N.Y./Carey) is batting .363 with 10 doubles and 30 runs scored. Sophomore outfielder Joseph Impeduglia (Staten Island, N.Y/St. Peter's Boys) is hitting .325 with four home runs and 29 RBI. Senior righty Dylan Lawrence (Queens, N.Y./St. Francis Prep) (6-2, 2.12 ERA, 64 SO) tops the pitching staff.
The Golden Falcons won both games from Concordia during the 2018 regular season. Felician is 2-2 all-time in the CACC playdown round, including a home loss to Philadelphia University in 2017.
"Losing last year's play-in game was extremely difficult," Diesel said. "We know we let a great opportunity get away from us. The returners from that team know what's at stake and the new guys have bought in. We have all had the same goal of winning a conference championship since Day 1. It takes one game at a time and it starts Saturday with Concordia."
The CACC Baseball Championship tournament is an eight-team event. Saturday's winner advances into the four-team, double-elimination main draw and plays Thursday in Waterbury, Conn., against the winner of the Dominican (N.Y.) College/Chestnut Hill College playdown game.
The champion of the 2018 CACC Tournament receives an automatic berth into the NCAA Division II East Regional, to be hosted by one of the regional participants.