The Montclair State Red Hawks have wrapped up their first portion of the season against non-conference opponents. Now, they've kicked off their conference portion of their 2022 season by sweeping a doubleheader on the road against Rutgers-Newark on Saturday, April 2, splitting a doubleheader at home against Rowan University on Saturday, April 9, before sweeping a doubleheader against the Ramapo College Roadrunners on Sunday, April 10. Montclair State Red Hawks baseball head coach Dave Lorber understands the importance of these games against NJAC opponents.
"Conference games are everything," said Dave Lorber. "Obviously you want to have a successful non-conference slate which I thought we accomplished. And now it's the second season and arguably the most important season playing against some of the best teams in the country, some of the best players in the country, and it's a ten-round slugfest each time you step foot against another guy in the NJAC."
Patrick Cuccurllo Dominates in Blowout Win
Patrick Cuccurllo took the mound for the Red Hawks in the first game of the doubleheader, and he was nothing short of electrifying. Cuccurllo pitched six shutout innings while allowing just one hit and striking out nine. In his past three starts, Cuccurllo has struck out 26 total batters.
"I think it's good cause me and (Guarino) our catcher working together calling our game," said Patrick Cuccurllo. "Sequencing seems to really becoming and clicking together, and it's just working out for us so it feels really good."
As far as Montclair's offense was concerned, it was just another day at the office for the highest-scoring lineup in the NJAC. The Red Hawks plated 14 total runs in the ballgame. Jorden Jurkiewicz once again had a big day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with one RBI. Anthony Guarino also continued his hot hitting of late, going 2-for-5 with three RBIs. In his last four games, Guarino is 7-for-16. The Roadrunners managed to rally for five runs in the eighth, but it wasn't nearly enough as the Red Hawks went on to dominate this one 14-5.
Jason Moore Walks It Off
Montclair State quickly fell behind in the second game of the doubleheader. Ramapo College jumped out to a 3-0 lead by the top of the third inning after a couple of wild pitches as well as taking home on a caught stealing. Joe Norton got the Red Hawks on the board with an RBI run single in the bottom of the fourth, but the Red Hawks still trailed 3-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth. This would be when Andrew Ollwerther would get one of the biggest hits of the ballgame, hitting one the opposite way to right field that just got carried by the wind enough to sail over the fence for a two-run home run. Ollwerther's second bomb of the season tied the game up at three.
The game quickly became a pitcher's duel, with the score remaining tied. Darren Gonzalez was critical out of the bullpen for Montclair State, pitching three shutout innings. Montclair State would then take their first lead of the ballgame in the bottom of the eighth off an RBI single by Miles Feaster. Ramapo would tie the game in the top of the ninth, sending the game into the bottom of the ninth tied at four.
Montclair State would quickly load the bases for Jason Moore, who came into his fifth plate appearance 0-for-3 with a walk. He couldn't have picked a better time for his first hit, lining one over the infield for a walk-off single, giving Montclair State the 5-4 win.
Jason Moorer lines one into the outfield scoring Rantanen and the Montclair State Red Hawks walk it off against the Ramapo College Roadrunners 5-4 to sweep the doubleheader! They’ll return home on Thursday to play New Jersey City University. #ComeFlyWithUs #JerseySports pic.twitter.com/Q2wa6bP1R9
— Adam Grassani (@AGrassani6) April 10, 2022
"We had one out," said Jason Moore. "Just trying to execute and hit something hard on the ground trying to score the run there. Do anything I can to get the run across and get the win."
Up Next for Montclair State
The Montclair State Red Hawks currently stand with a 5-1 conference record for 10 points, tied with Rowan University and Kean University for first place in the New Jersey Athletic Conference, and a 20-7 record overall. They'll remain home to face New Jersey City University on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. EDT.