Baseball Pushes Past Amherst to Stay Alive in NCAA Tournament

Newark, N.J. (5/18/14) – The Kean University baseball team picked up their fourth one-run win in regional action by defeating Amherst College, 4-3, Sunday afternoon in the elimination bracket of the NCAA N.Y. Regional Tournament.

With the win the Cougars (35-13) advance to take on SUNY Cortland in the championship series.  Should Cortland win, they would claim the N.Y. Regional Championship, if Kean wins, the Cougars would force a winner take all matchup on Monday.

Kean got started in their first at-bat as senior Tyler Smarslok got a leadoff single.  After swiping second he moved to third on an infield single from sophomore Matt Meleo.  Sophomore Sal Taormina drove in the game's first run with an RBI double.  After a double play later in the inning, junior Andy Lopez kept the inning alive with an infield single off the pitcher, moving Taormina to third.  A double steal, would add another as Kean took a 2-0 lead after one.

Small ball added another run in the third as Meleo started the inning with an infield single.  He would move to second on a stolen base and progressed to third on a fly out to right.  He then crossed the plate on a wild pitch as Kean took a 3-0 lead. 

Back-to-back walks helped Amherst to erase the shutout as small ball moved them both into scoring position and an RBI and a single in the hole pushed across the first Lord Jeff run.  Smarslok helped end the rally after chasing down a fly ball into foul territory on the first base side.  He then fired a strike to home to punch out the runner and end the inning.

Amherst rallied to knot the game at three-all in the eighth beginning the inning with a walk and single.  Small ball moved them both into scoring position and after a pitching change, a sac fly inched the Lord Jeffs closer at 3-2.   Two wild pitches moved Yanni Thanopoulos to third and then home tying the game at three-all.

The Cougars broke through in the bottom of the eighth as Joe O'Connor led off with a walk.  A bunt moved him to second and he moved over to third with a stolen base.  O'Connor (pictured left) then came home after Ryan Reitmeyer lofted a sacrifice fly.

Vinny Zanfordino earned the win in relief.  Zanfordino (3-0) allowed one hit in one and two thirds innings of work.  Southpaw Dan Hansen picked up a no-decision after throwing seven and a third innings allowing three runs and nine hits with five walks and two strikeouts. 

Offensively, Shane Alvarez, Ryan Kelley and Meleo all had two hits in the win.