RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Felician University baseball team captured the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) South Division regular-season title in 2019 and is the overall No. 1 seed for the upcoming conference championship tournament. In Saturday's single-elimination play-in game, Felician will face the North Division's No. 4 seed, Bloomfield College. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the Lyndhurst Recreation Complex.
Guided by 16th-year head coach Chris Langan, Felician is seeking its third tournament title, having won in 2014 and 2016. The Golden Falcons (30-20, 24-8) were the runners-up to Wilmington (Del.) University a year ago. They are making their eighth consecutive playoff appearance and the 16th in the 20-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, payable by CASH ONLY, of $8 for adults and $4 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://www.felicianathletics.com/sports/bsb/2018-19/boxscores/20190504_w321.xml and a free live video stream on the CACC Network at https://caccnetwork.com/felician/?bfplayvid=122895, both available shortly before the first pitch. Ricky Cibrano is expected to call the play-by-play on the webstream.
Felician is batting .291 as a team. Senior second baseman Danny Healey Jr. (Brookhaven, Pa./Monsignor Bonner) is batting .392 with a .536 on-base percentage. He has scored 50 runs, driven in 41, and stolen 16 bases. Senior shortstop L.T. Struble (Hammonton, N.J./Hammonton) is hitting .367 with four home runs and leads the CACC with 58 runs and a school-record 42 steals. Sophomore outfielder/first baseman Anthony Condito (Nutley, N.J./Nutley) is at .335 with three homers and 42 RBI.
Felician's likely starting pitcher on Saturday is junior right-hander Alex Schwartz (Voorhees, N.J./Eastern Regional) (8-1, 2.70 ERA), a transfer from Rowan College at Burlington County. Schwartz enters the tournament as the CACC's wins leader.
"My game plan is to attack low in the strike zone," Schwartz said. "I'm hopeful that my sinker and (split-finger fastball) will produce easy ground balls for my teammates, especially early in counts."
Bloomfield (14-34-1, 14-18) is looking for its first league crown since joining the NCAA in 2003. The Bears are hitting .276 as a team. Senior outfielder Khalid Legette (Teaneck, N.J./Teaneck) is batting .344 with 45 runs scored, 31 RBI and 17 steals. He sets the table for the power duo of junior outfielder Darwin Tavarez (Garfield, N.J./Garfield) (.331, 8 HR, 41 RBI) and freshman infielder Tyree Bradley (West Orange, N.J./West Orange). The Golden Falcons are expecting to face Bear freshman left-hander Wilfrido Valenzuela (Paterson, N.J./Eastside) (3-2, 3.64 ERA, 64 SO).
The Golden Falcons split their league doubleheader with Bloomfield during the 2019 regular season, and lead the all-time series, 35-14. Felician is 3-2 all-time in the CACC play-in game, including a home victory over Concordia (N.Y.) College in 2018.
"Being the No. 1 seed is a great opportunity for us," Schwartz said. "It proves how hard the team and coaching staff has worked and battled through adversity to get to this point. It also puts a target on our back, so I know we won't be taking any of these games lightly. Every other team is out to take us down."
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 play-in game.
The champion of the 2019 CACC Tournament receives an automatic berth into the NCAA Division II East Regional, to be hosted by two of the regional participants.