Gutierrez Tosses 2-Hitter; Baseball Halves Home Opener

Right handed baseball pitcher shot from third-base side.
Michael Gutierrez pitched a seven-inning two-hitter with 11 strikeouts against New Haven on Mar. 13, 2019. (Ellen O'Brien)

LYNDHURST, N.J. – Sophomore right-hander Michael Gutierrez (Garfield, N.J./Garfield) pitched a two-hitter with 11 strikeouts and senior L.T. Struble (Hammonton, N.J./Hammonton) scored both of his team's runs to lead Felician University to a 2-1 victory over the visiting University of New Haven in Game 1 of the teams' non-conference baseball doubleheader on Wednesday afternoon at the Lyndhurst Recreation Complex. New Haven bounced back to win the nightcap, 8-2, in 10 innings.

Felician (4-10) was playing at home for the first time in 2019. New Haven (6-4) is ranked No. 3 in the most recent NCAA Division II East Region writers' poll and received votes nationally.

Struble, in his second season with Felician after having previously toiled for Camden County College, started in center field for the first two occasions as a collegian. As Felician's leadoff man, he was 5 for 7 plus a walk on Wednesday. However, the rest of the Golden Falcons combined to go 2 for 40.

Both of Wednesday's contests were scheduled seven-inning affairs. In the opener, Gutierrez went the distance. He threw 104 pitches, 67 for strikes. The only blemish on his line came in the second frame, when UNH senior Andrew Garcia (Medford, N.Y./Patchogue-Medford) was hit by a pitch and sacrificed to second base, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a fielding error.

Struble (3 for 3, double, three stolen bases) created both Felician tallies. In the first, the lefty swinger slapped a single through the opposite side, advanced on a sacrifice bunt, stole third base and continued home when the throw to third was mishandled.

After Garcia's run tied the game, Struble stroked a one-out double in the third and again stole third base. New Haven pitcher Chris Leindecker (East Lyme, Conn./East Lyme) struck out James Greig (Staten Island, N.Y./Tottenville) on a breaking pitch. But the ball one-hopped the catcher, and Greig eluded the tag and forced a throw to first. Greig was retired for the second out, but Struble broke from third and beat the throw back home.

Gutierrez (2-2) recorded a pair of strikeouts to escape a two-on, one-out jam in the fourth, then yielded just a sixth-inning walk in the final three stanzas. Leindecker (1-1) also tossed a complete game, giving up one earned run on four hits with six strikeouts and two walks in six innings in the hard-luck loss.

Jasson Corniel (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic/CENAPEC) doubled for the Golden Falcons.

New Haven junior righty Brandon LaManna (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown West) (1-0) tossed 5 2/3 innings of hitless relief as the Chargers outlasted Felician in Game 2. A LaManna wild pitch in the bottom of the fifth inning allowed an inherited runner, Golden Falcon freshman Jake Gilbert (Valrico, Fla./East Bay) to score and tie the game at 2-2. He escaped further damage and later stranded the potential winning run on second base with one out in the seventh to force extra frames.

Sophomore Nick Nardulli (Staten Island, N.Y./Tottenville) (0-1) held the Charger offense at bay for his first three innings of work. But Noah Budzik (Cromwell, Conn./Cromwell) led off the top of the 10th with a single and move up on a sacrifice. On Matt Chamberlain's (North Branford, Conn./North Branford) ground ball to shortstop, Felician elected to cut down Budzik trying to advance, but a poor throw put runners at the corners.

Budzik scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch. Following a walk, P.J. Contreras (Hauppauge, N.Y./Hauppauge) dropped an RBI double just inside the right field foul line. The Golden Falcons chose to set up a double play with an intentional walk, but a run-scoring walk to Andrew Cain (Seaford, N.Y./Seaford) ended Nardulli's day.

The first pitch by Zack Johnston (Hazlet, N.J./Raritan) bounded to the backstop, allowing two more runs to score. On out later, James Myers (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown East) capped the six-run uprising with an RBI infield single.

Senior Will Kazura (Linwood, N.J./East Stroudsburg North [Pa.]) started on the mound for Felician and gave up two runs on six hits over five innings. Gilbert scored both Golden Falcon runs, the first one on a Jake Stoller (Merion Station, Pa./Lower Merion) sacrifice fly. Struble was 2 for 4.

Budzik was 3 for 5 and scored twice for the Chargers.

Felician hosts a three-game weekend series against Franklin Pierce University, beginning with a 1 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday in Lyndhurst.