Rowan College of South Jersey's baseball Roadrunners came into Saturday's afternoon matchup riding a seven game win streak having pushed 69 runs across the plate during that stretch. They're 11-3 on the season and the third ranked Division III team in the country.
Visiting Sewell today was Delaware Tech CC (13-5) on their own five game winning streak. The games would be limited to seven innings due to the doubleheader, score permitting.
On the mound for the first game was Kevin Opanel following his no-hitter of Lehigh Carbon CC in his last outing a week ago. Opanel, a sophomore RHP, had racked up 12 strikeouts and issued a single baserunner via walk.
Getting the nod for Delaware Tech was Zachary Hart, another sophomore from Middletown.
With a cold wind gusting in from left field, the ball was staying in the yard today, for better or worse.
The weather proved impactful immediately, as the second batter of the game was given extra bases on what appeared to be a routine fly to centerfield. A combination of the wind and shining sun behind home plate gifted Hunter Rauch a double.
This was the first hit allowed by Opanel in seven plus innings, though it amounted to nothing.
Runs were difficult to come by through the first half of the game, as a couple of miscues on the infield proved costly to give RCSJ a 3-0 lead after four innings.
While neither team was hitting the ball particularly well, Delaware Tech was making more contact, ultimately breaking through and scratching across two of their own runs. Opanel had built on his success from Lehigh Carbon until the fifth inning, where Del-Tech suddenly tagged him for four hits, including two with runners in scoring position that may not have left the infield grass.
Opanel threw five innings, allowing two earned runs on seven hits with two strikeouts.
The Roadrunners would respond with a run of their own in the bottom of the fifth. With runners on the corners and two outs, RCSJ called a double-steal to bait a throw down to second base. Fractions of a second before the tag at second base, Aaron Graeber crossed home, and the run would count after some brief discussion to extend the lead to 4-2.
Coming in to relieve Opanel was Ethan Dodd, who had allowed just two hits this season prior to this outing.
Delaware Tech seemed to pick up the ball much better in the sixth. After a throwing error, a single to right-center, and a stolen base, Connor Strauss doubled in two to tie the game at four.
Dodd would pick up a couple of big strikeouts to wiggle out of trouble, but after Hart delivered the shutdown inning with two of his own K's, the momentum had swung far from the Roadrunners.
The final frame began with two walks-- a recipe for runs-- and a throwing error on a potential double play ball. Delaware Tech would take the lead for good after the error plated a run, and the Roadrunners went down quietly to end the first game 5-4.
Zachary Hart threw all seven innings for Delaware Tech, and none of the four runs came from base hits.
Ethan Shaub got the ball for RCSJ, looking to split the doubleheader and take a win home for the Roadrunners. The lefty has two scoreless innings in his only appearance this season.
Del-Tech gave the ball to Cade Williams, who also has a no-hitter under his belt this season as well as 27 strikeouts in his 24 innings of work.
After an early threat in the top of the first, both pitchers kept things under wraps for much of the first half. The two starters kept the game scoreless for three innings before Shaub was replaced by Tim Hartman to begin the fourth.
Williams retired the first ten batters he faced without a strikeout until walking Felix Diaz with one out. After an error put runners on the corners, Cole Fowler knocked in Diaz with a sacrifice fly to center.
Mason Morris responded in the top of the fifth for Delaware Tech by driving in the tying run on an infield single down the third base-line.
With two outs in the sixth, Delaware Tech threatened to score again. A base-hit to left field prompted a play at the plate in this tied ballgame, where A.J. Tropiano gunned down the runner by about ten feet on a hop.
Having no success swinging against Cade Williams thus far, Scotty Young led off with a bunt and was rewarded with a throwing mistake, allowing him to advance to second with the first hit of the game for the Roadrunners.
With the seal broken, RCSJ put a few more balls in play. Fowler and Rocko Brzezniak drove in runs before Tropiano banged one off the wall in right-center field, knocking Williams out of the game at 4-1. Two more runs would cross the plate via wild pitch and a Sean Brown RBI single before Delaware Tech stopped the bleeding.
Hartman was credited with the win, throwing four innings of relief coming in for Ethan Shaub. He allowed just one run on five hits after plunking the first batter he faced, striking out three with no walks.
The RCSJ Roadrunners, with the split, move to 12-4 on the season, and are scheduled to play Raritan Valley at home on Monday afternoon.
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