By Ryan Nussbaum
After dropping Game one in Friday evening’s doubleheader, the 23rd ranked Red Hawks rode an early rally, as well as a strong performance from sophomore pitcher Matt Pontari to easily take Game 2 over Franklin & Marshall College.
The scoring opened up in the bottom of the third inning, with Junior infielder Reece Malek stealing his way around the bags. Malek slid into home after Diplomats catcher Conner Rush tried to pick off sophomore Matt Kiliske who was on his way to second. His risky move paid off, giving Montclair state an early lead.
However, it was all Diplomats from there. After his team took the lead in the fourth off of a pair of RBIs, F&M’s Drew Butera crushed a 3 run homer to left-center field, extending their lead further. F&M continued to pile on the runs throughout the contest. A three run-homer by junior infielder Bobby Falese in the ninth put the game out of reach for the Red Hawks, handing them a 12-2 loss in game one.
However, the script flipped in Game 2. Senior second baseman tonight Miles Feaster said that the Red Hawks completely reset between games.
“Obviously team morale after a game one like that, getting beat that badly, team morale is down, but you take that 30-40 minutes [between games] and you just reset,” Feaster said “It’s a new game and everyone knows it. You don’t want to feel that way again too.”
The tone was set immediately as Montclair State wasted no time. Miles Feaster started it off by hitting an rbi single which got senior outfielder Ryan Mckenna in from second. Senior infielder Jason Moore crushed a ball into the right field wall, bringing in 3 runners to bring the score up to 4-0.
Feaster’s career day was not over yet. The very next inning he struck again, smashing a three run no doubter to deep left field for his first career home run. With the Red Hawks’ lead extended to seven after two innings, Feaster said that the energy the team carried into Game two helped propel the team early on.
“It felt really good,” Feaster said. “We all fed each other. The second some people start getting on base it’s not going to stop. So when the two people in front of me got on base, I hit, the people behind me hit. And that’s the good thing about doubleheaders, it’s that you get to reset from game one [We immediately] say game one meant nothing, game two is a completely different game and we took advantage of that.”
Pontari had an impressive outing, posting an incredible 11 strikeouts in 6 2⁄3 innings to earn his second win of the season. With F&M’s bats going from hot to cold, he capitalized, not allowing a Diplomat to get on base until the sixth inning. Pontari credits his performance to his teammates’ energy, as well as their defensive play.
“I just try to prepare the right way every single day,” Pontari said. “We had a tough game one, we’re not really used to losing by that much…I just brought the same amount of energy that me and my teammates would to any game…We put down 4 runs in the first inning. I went out there and tried to do what I could and the defense picked me up and we came out with a win today.” Pontari went deep into the game before finally finishing his day after allowing 2 runs in the 6th, meaning the pitching staff were able to keep their arms as fresh as possible. Pontari said that it’ll come in handy for the rest of the weekend.
“It’s really valuable, and we’ve been lucky to do that a few times this year,” Feaster said. “We have another doubleheader Sunday, so only using two pitchers here is huge for us.” After closing out an 8-2 win over Franklin & Marshall, the Red Hawks were able to save the day and at least get one bringing their record to 9-2. They continue their homestand Sunday afternoon as they take on Manhattanville College in another doubleheader.