BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- Moravian College continues its look back at its 2014-15 athletic campaign with the No. 2 highlight in the Top 10 Exciting Games – the baseball team's 8-7 walk off win over New Jersey City University on March 27 in the squad's first home non-conference game of the season to give Head Coach Paul Engelhardt his 200th career victory.
The Hounds, who finished the season 21-20 and hosted the 2015 Landmark Conference Championship series, were playing part of a six-game home stand that saw the squad win the first five games including four in Landmark Conference action.
"It's an honor to be included in some of these great games of the past school year," stated Engelhardt. "No. 200 isn't any more important than any other team on campus or their accomplishments. There were many great games this past year, and our game against NJCU was exciting and very rewarding for the players. Walk off wins are fun and unforgettable...marking my 200th win made it more meaningful for myself."
The game started with the Gothic Knights jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. The Hounds countered and tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the second. Senior left fielder Justin Pilchman put down a bunt single with one out before senior third baseman Ryan Luke reached on an error. Junior catcher Mike Roethke followed with a two-RBI double to right field to knot the score.
NJCU answered right back with two runs in the top of the third to retake the lead, and the Gothic Knights scored again in the fourth for a 5-2 advantage.
Luke led off the bottom half of the fourth inning with a single, and he moved to second when sophomore designated hitter Nicolas Ampietro drew a one-out walk. Senior second baseman Alex Longernecker followed with an RBI single to chase Luke home from second base. Sophomore center fielder Anthony Gaetaniello then ripped an RBI single to center field with Ampietro crossing the plate but the Hounds would leave runners at second and third.
Moravian retook the lead in the bottom of the fifth. Pilchman doubled with one out and then he stole third base. When the throw sailed into left field, it allowed him to race home with the tying run. Luke would walk and steal second base before Roethke connected on another RBI double to put the Blue & Grey ahead, 6-5.
Once again that lead would be short-lived as NJCU plated two runs, one unearned, in the top of the sixth to move back in front, 7-6.
In the home half of the seventh frame, Luke singled with one out, and he would score from first base on Roethke's third RBI double of the game to knot the score at 7-7. Roethke's hit tied six other performances of three doubles in a game in the Moravian record books.
"It was an exciting day," commented Roethke. "We were down a bunch of times and were able to respond all game. I was fortunate to come up with guys in scoring position and drive them in. I was seeing the ball well. It was great to get Coach E his 200th win in walk off fashion. He's done so much for Moravian Baseball and the program is only getting better."
After a scoreless eighth inning and a top of ninth that saw the Gothic Knights strand runners at second and third, the Hounds came to bat looking to win the non-conference home opener. Pilchman started the bottom of the ninth inning with an infield single to third base. Luke put down a sacrifice bunt to move Pilchman into scoring position but NJCU wouldn't give Roethke a chance at the school record for doubles as they intentionally walked him. After the second out of the inning, Longernecker would rip an RBI single to center field to score Pilchman with the winning run.
"Before stepping into the box, I knew they were going to walk Mike. They had to," Longernecker explained. "So I already had that mindset going up to the plate that I had to get Pilch in. We scored eight runs in the game, so their staff wasn't overpowering us. I just looked to hug the dish and drive the middle, and that's what I did. We battled that game, just like we did all season and got Coach E his 200th win. It was a big win and a confidence booster going into a crucial conference weekend."
You can check out the original game day story http://moraviansports.com/sports/bsb/2014-15/releases/201503278hgu8i.
Number one on our Top 10 Exciting Games will be announced on Wednesday, July 22 with a look at some of the other games that missed our Top 10 on Monday, July 20.