Baseball Play-In Victory Fit For A Prince

Baseball player celebrating third base line
Rahul Prince's walkoff single gave Felician a 7-6 play-in victory on May 5, 2018. (Ellen O'Brien)

LYNDHURST, N.J. – Sophomore designated hitter Rahul Prince (Pomona, N.Y./St. Joseph Regional [N.J.]) looped a two-out RBI single to center field in the bottom of the 10th inning to give Felician University a 7-6 victory over visiting Concordia (N.Y.) College in the playdown round of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Championship tournament on Saturday afternoon at the Lyndhurst Recreation Complex.

The win advances Felician (28-23) to the four-team, double-elimination main draw of the tournament. The Golden Falcons will face 2017 champion Dominican (N.Y.) College, a playdown winner over Chestnut Hill College later on Saturday, to start the main draw on Thursday at noon at Municipal Stadium in Waterbury, Conn. The balance of the event will be hosted by Post University.

Concordia concludes its season at 20-26.

With the game even at 6-6 in the 10th, Clipper reliever Raymond Rosado (3-4), in his fourth inning of work, gave up a two-out single to L.T. Struble (Hammonton, N.J./Hammonton). On the first pitch to Matt Diesel (Massapequa Park, N.Y./Massapequa), Struble stole second base. Concordia elected to walk Diesel, the CACC's leading hitter, intentionally, and, on a 1-1 pitch, Prince's short fly ball eluded the diving Clipper center fielder, setting off a celebration on the Golden Falcon side.

Prince was 3 for 6 on the day, driving in four of Felician's seven runs.

"Rah has worked extremely hard," said Felician head coach Chris Langan. "His at-bats early in the conference season sparked us, which led to us making him a regular guy. He really delivered and his confidence continued to rise. He battles at the plate and shows consistent contact."

Earlier in the game, the lead changed hands four times. Concordia erased a 2-0 deficit on a three-run double by sophomore Joseph Impeduglia (Staten Island, N.Y./St. Peter's Boys) off of Golden Falcon freshman Michael Gutierrez (Garfield, N.J./Garfield) in the top of the sixth inning. Felician bounced back against Clipper ace Dylan Lawrence (Queens, N.Y./St. Francis Prep) in the home half, using a pinch-hit bases-loaded walk by Mike Martone (Brick, N.J./Brick Memorial) and a Ronnie Sessa (Chester, N.J./Immaculata) sacrifice fly to re-take the lead.

The visitors plated two more runs off the Felician bullpen in the seventh. But after Lawrence erred on a potential double-play ground ball in the bottom of the seventh, Prince knocked him out with a two-run single. Concordia would get even, 6-6, in the eighth when Hermes Abreu (Bayshore, N.Y./Bayshore), who had reached on catcher's obstruction, scored on Kendell Luquis' (New Rochelle, N.Y./Stepinac) sacrifice fly.

Felician senior Dan Naif (Jackson, N.J./Jackson Liberty) (4-1), making his 100th career pitching appearance, tossed two scoreless innings for the victory. Gutierrez worked six innings in a no-decision, giving up two earned runs on four hits with 10 strikeouts and four walks.

Struble was on base five times, going 2 for 3 with three walks. His two runs scored give him 61 for 2018, breaking his tie with Frank Quintana (59 in 2007) for the Felician single-season record. Diesel and Danny Healey Jr. (Brookhaven, Pa./Monsignor Bonner) also had two hits each in the Golden Falcons' 13-hit attack.

"This was a tremendous win for our program," Langan said. "Early-season battles prepared us for the moment, and our guys didn't panic. Concordia, especially with Lawrence, on the mound, we knew would be tough. After not getting past this round last year, our guys wanted to win this game badly. This could have been an easy season to give up on, but our guys refuse to quit on each other."

Felician seeks its third CACC title, having won the crown in 2012 and 2014.