Strickland Gets 200th Hit, But Baseball Is Swept By Pioneers

Strickland Gets 200th Hit, But Baseball Is Swept By Pioneers

LYNDHURST, N.J. – Felician University combined for just eight base hits and committed eight errors in losing both ends of its non-conference baseball doubleheader to visiting LIU Post, 6-2 and 2-1, on Sunday afternoon at the Lyndhurst Recreation Complex. Game 2 was scheduled for seven innings but needed eight to be decided.

Felician (2-9) was playing in its 2018 home opener. LIU Post is ranked No. 8 in the most recent NCAA Division II East Region writers' poll.

With a looping RBI single to left field in the third inning of Game 1, Golden Falcon senior shortstop Bruce Strickland (Hazlet, N.J./Raritan) earned his 200th career base hit. He is the sixth member of Felician's 200-hit club. The Golden Falcon program began in 2000.

In the opener, the Pioneers (6-5) jumped out to a 5-1 lead after three innings. LIU Post used three hits, including a rally-capping RBI single by Dave Brehm (Bohemia, N.Y./Connetquot), four stolen bases, a passed ball and a sacrifice fly to plate three first-inning runs, then were helped by three Golden Falcon errors and a two-run Brehm double to strike again in the third.

Strickland's milestone hit put the hosts on the scoreboard, and Felician scratched another run in the fourth on Matt Diesel's (Massapequa Park, N.Y./Massapequa) leadoff triple and a sacrifice fly from Ron Sessa (Chester, N.J./Immaculata). But Pioneer junior right-hander James Varela (Levittown, N.Y./Division) was otherwise in control.

Varela (2-0) gave up three hits and struck out eight Golden Falcons over seven innings, while walking four. He gave way to Julien Arcos (Glenwood Landing, N.Y./Chaminade) for the final two frames. Felician staged a two-out eighth-inning rally, but did not score, and Arcos worked around a leadoff Sessa single in the ninth.

Rob Andreoli (North Wantagh, N.Y./MacArthur) went 3 for 4 with three stolen bases and scored twice for the Pioneers. Graduate student Rob Naughton (Levittown, N.Y./Chaminade) (1-2) started on the mound and took the loss for Felician, yielding three earned runs on seven hits over five innings.

Offense was at a premium in Game 2, as each team could muster only three hits. LIU Post dented the scoreboard first off of Golden Falcon starter Will Kazura (Saddle Brook, N.J./East Stroudsburg North [Pa.]). Joe Spitaleri (Levittown, N.Y./Division) scored all the way from second base on Brehm's two-out bunt single.

The Golden Falcons finally got to Pioneer left-hander Noah Lorenzo (Massapequa Park, N.Y./St. John the Baptist) in the fourth. Strickland dropped in a leadoff double. Following a walk and a sacrifice, Jason Aponte (Loxahatchee, Fla./Seminole Ridge) evened the score with a groundout.

Kazura yielded to freshman righty Michael Gutierrez (Garfield, N.J./Garfield) and the combination of Lorenzo and Gutierrez carried the game into extra innings. In the top of the eighth, Gutierrez hit Sal Geraci (Bayport, N.Y./Bayport-Blue Point) with a pitch with the bases loaded and one out. He escaped further damage with two strikeouts, but Pioneer freshman Joseph Valentino (West Islip, N.Y./West Islip) pitched a hitless eighth for his first save.

All three Felician hits were doubles, with Diesel and sophomore Rahul Prince (Pomona, N.Y./St. Joseph Regional [N.J.]) joining Strickland. For Prince, it was his first collegiate hit. Gutierrez (1-1) suffered the loss despite giving up only one hit, a leadoff double to Andreoli in the eighth, in four innings.

Felician begins a five-game trip to south Florida with a neutral-site contest against Stonehill College on Wednesday morning in Boca Raton.