The NJIT baseball team remains undefeated in 2019 after a doubleheader sweep at Norfolk State, 11-5 and 4-3 in a 10-inning nightcap Sunday afternoon at Marty L. Miller Field.
The 5-0-1 start for the Highlanders is the best start in the Division I era (first season 2006-07). NJIT opened its spring campaign with a four-game series against Eastern Michigan, registering a 3-0-1 record and picked up a pair of wins at Norfolk State on Sunday.
Junior Matthew Cocciadiferro led the Highlanders in the doubleheader sweep, finishing 4-for-8 with five RBIs, four hits (two doubles), and three runs. Cocciadiferro hit .500 and drove in the game-winning run for the Highlanders in the top of the 10 in the nightcap, on a sacrifice fly to center field.
Game 1 | NJIT 11, Norfolk State 5 (Final)
NJIT senior right-handed pitcher Sean Lubreski picked up his second win of the season, pitching 6.0 innings while Jared Kacso pitched three scoreless innings to secure his first save of the season.
Junior right fielder Matthew Cocciadiferro paced the Highlanders in game one, going 3-for-4 with four RBIs, three runs and two doubles. Freshman second baseman Brett Helmkamp finished 3-for-5 with three RBIs and veteran centerfielder Michael Anastasia went 2-for-5 with two RBIs.
Visiting NJIT scored three runs in the top of the first, taking an early 3-0 lead. With two outs, sophomore catcher Paul Franzoni sparked the Highlanders, reaching base on a single to third. After three consecutive RBI singles by Matthew Cocciadiferro, Michael Anastasia and Brett Helmkamp, NJIT held a 3-0 advantage.
Norfolk State added one run in the bottom of the first, as leadoff batter Justin Hayes tripled down the right field line and scored on a groundout to second by Brandon Crosby.
After a 1-2-3 inning for the Highlanders in the top of the second, the home team tied the game at 3-all on a bases loaded singled up the middle by Dionte Brown, scoring a pair of Spartan runners.
In the top of the sixth, NJIT broke the 3-3 tie, with a lead-off double down the third base line by Franzoni. Cocciadiferro drove in Franzoni with an RBI double to left field and Anastasia followed with an RBI single through the left side, putting the Highlanders back on top, 5-3.
The Spartans knotted the game at 5-5 in the bottom of the sixth, on a ground rule double down the third base line by Stephen Baughan and an RBI groundout by Caleb Ward.
NJIT took the lead for good, 7-5, in the top of the seventh on two Spartan errors, scoring a pair of Highlander runs.
The Highlanders added four runs in the top of the ninth for a comfortable lead, 11-5, on two hits and three Spartan errors.
Game 2 | NJIT 4, Norfolk State 3 (10) (Final)
Freshman Hunter Harris (1-0) recorded his first collegiate win, pitching four hitless and shutout innings of baseball while striking out three Spartan batters.
Junior right-handed pitcher Tyler Stafflinger was credited with a no-decision, pitching the first six innings of action, allowing five hits, three runs while fanning seven batters.
First baseman Nick Hussey was the only multi-hit Highlander in game two, finishing 2-for-4 with one RBI while Cocciadiferro went 1-for-4 with one RBI.
NJIT struck first with a single run in the top of the third, thanks to two Spartan errors and one Highlander hit.
The home team responded with a pair of runs in the bottom portion of the innings, taking an early 2-1 lead.
NJIT tied the game up at 2-2 in the top of the fourth on an RBI double to left field by Hussey.
Neither team scored in the fifth and the Spartans regained the lead, 3-2, in the bottom of the sixth on a solo shot by Ward to lead off the inning.
The Highlanders rallied in the top of the eighth, with a lead-off walk by catcher Paul Franzoni. Cocciadiferro followed with a single through the left side, moving Franzoni to second. The Highlander runners moved into scoring position after a sacrifice bunt by Michael Anastasia and both runners moved up a base on a Spartan balk, as Franzoni crossed home plate, knotting the game at 3-3.
In the top of the 10th, Julio Marcano led off the inning with a lead-off walk, stole second and moved up to third on a wild pitch. Cocciadiferro knocked in the game-winning run with a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Marcano for a 4-3 lead.
NJIT will return to action with a three-game series at Morehead State in Morehead, KY on March 2 and March 3.