Photo Credit: Montclair State Athletics

Montclair State walks it off to sweeps doubleheader against TCNJ

It was a special day for the Montclair State Red Hawks baseball team on Saturday, April 16. Not only was it Alumni Appreciation Day and the retirement of John Deutsch's number 27, but Montclair State once again swept a doubleheader. This time they won both games against The College of New Jersey Lions, including yet another walk-off victory for the Red Hawks.

Patrick Cuccurullo is Once Again Dominant

The first game of the doubleheader was the definition of a pitcher's duel early on. Red Hawks starting pitcher Patrick Cuccurullo was again electric on the mound, pitching six shutout innings while striking out seven. In his last four outings, Cuccurullo has pitched 23 2/3 innings striking out 33 while allowing just four earned runs for an ERA of 1.52. He's currently sixth in the NJAC in ERA at 2.87 and third in strikeouts with 55 on the season.

Cuccurullo got into some trouble in the sixth when TCNJ loaded the bases after an E-4, single, and walk. However, Cuccurullo quickly bounced back by striking out Ryan Goodall and getting Andrew Fernandez to ground out to get out of trouble.

"The key was I had one out with the bases loaded," said Cuccurullo. "So my whole mentality was 'get a ground ball and we're out of the inning.'. And I wound up getting a strikeout for the second out. And then just staying confident in my stuff, especially that last batter not letting him get away and giving our team a chance to win. Luckily, Myles made a great play and we got out of it."

Peter Cosentino Walks It Off

Montclair State got on the board first in the bottom of the second after an RBI single by Anthony Guarino. However, throughout most of the game, the highest-scoring lineup in the NJAC was quiet, as that would be the only run they would score throughout the first eight innings. Meanwhile, TCNJ would take the lead in the top of the eighth on a Joe Oczkowski sacrifice fly and an Andrew Fernandez double. The Lions would add an insurance run in the top of the ninth on an E-9 to take a 3-1 lead to the bottom of the ninth.

Like they've done many times this season, the Red Hawks lineup started putting together a rally. Reece Malik scored on a Myles Feaster groundout to make the score 3-2. Guarino struck out swinging for the second out, but the Red Hawks responded by quickly loading the bases on an E-9 and a couple of walks for Peter Cosentino. Cosentino came through in the clutch, hitting one fair down the left-field line scoring two, giving Montclair State the 4-3 walk-off victory.

"That's a big thing (coach) Lorber always says," said Peter Cosentino. "Just don't try to be too big. Stay within yourself and keep on passing from batter to batter. Joe Norton did a great job working that at-bat and passing it to me. Just all the stuff we've done during the week got me ready for that at-bat and I just tried to put a good swing on it and put it into play."

Montclair State Cruises to Victory in Second Game

Winning the first game of a doubleheader is bound to give the team that won some momentum heading into the second game. Montclair State successfully carried that momentum into the second game of their doubleheader against TCNJ. The Red Hawks put up a five-spot in the bottom of the third inning, two coming on a single from Jorden Jurkiewicz. Peter Cosentino also had another big hit, a two-run triple in the bottom of the eighth to pad the Red Hawks' lead further. Cosentino was 3-for-9 with four RBIs on the day. In the NJAC, he's currently tied for first in RBIs with 44, tied for third in home runs with eight, and third in slugging percentage at .774 and OPS at 1.278.

Montclair State's bullpen was key in the second game, as Nicholas Sefick, Darren Gonzalez, and Justin Silva combined for 4 2/3 innings of work, six strikeouts, and zero earned runs. Montclair State ultimately cruised to a 9-3 victory, giving them the doubleheader sweep, their seventh swept doubleheader of the season.

"Anytime you can walk-off somebody in game one of a doubleheader, it creates momentum into game two," said head coach Dave Lorber. "Credit to all of our alumni who came out for Alumni Appreciation Day. That's what really gave us the momentum in game one to never give up. To do that and honor John Deutsch today and his hall of fame career was unbelievable. I'm just really proud that we were able to pull that out in front of those guys."

On Deck for Montclair State

The Montclair State Red Hawks currently stand with a conference record of 9-1 on the season and a 24-7 record overall. They're now second in the New Jersey Athletic Conference, trailing only Kean University. They'll play two games against William Paterson later this week, the first on the road Thursday, April 21 at 3:30 p.m. EDT and the second at home on Friday, April 22 at 3:30 p.m. EDT.

Adam Grassani

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