CALDWELL, N.J. – Sophomore Anthony Condito (Nutley, N.J.) went a combined 6 for 8 and classmate Sean Downey (Elizabeth, N.J.) drove in three runs in each game as Felician University won both ends of its Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference baseball doubleheader from host Caldwell University, 13-11 and 9-4, on Saturday afternoon at the Kiwanis Oval.
The triumph in Game 2 was the 400th career coaching victory for Felician head coach Chris Langan, a Keyport High School and Kean University graduate now living in Hazlet. All 400 have come with the Golden Falcons.
"Today was an exciting day," Langan said. "Having my family around for such a milestone was truly special and meant so much to me. In terms of the program, I've been lucky enough to see us through the infancy stages to where we are now, and so many great people -- both players and coaches -- have passed through. None of this happens without them and their adapting to our loose style of play."
The pair of wins allowed Felician (20-16, 14-4 CACC) to move its lead in the CACC South Division to four games as most teams pass the halfway points of their league schedules. The Golden Falcons are ranked No. 10 in the most recent NCAA Division II East Region writers' poll.
"What I'm most proud of today is that our current guys responded after being challenged by our staff to maintain their intensity and focus," Langan said. "I'm sure later on, the milestone and all that surrounds it will hit home more, but for today, I'm glad we have a lead and another winning week in conference play."
The Golden Falcons jumped out to a 5-0 lead after three innings of the day's opening game. Downey's two-run home run in the fifth extended the advantage to 7-0, but Caldwell pushed across a run in the bottom of the fifth on Dhillon Barbetti's (West Long Branch, N.J.) RBI single.
That tally was the only blemish on the line of Felician sophomore right-hander Kyle O'Neill (West Islip, N.Y.). In his longest outing of the season, O'Neill (1-1) worked through six innings, giving up five hits and one walk with three strikeouts. He departed with a 11-1 edge.
The Cougars (8-17, 6-10) battered the Felician bullpen for four runs on five hits in the seventh, highlighted by a Mason Marino (Brooklyn, N.Y.) two-run double. Two seemingly innocuous insurance runs in the eighth by the Golden Falcons, on a run-scoring double by Condito and a Mike Martinez (Union City, N.J.) RBI single, later proved to be important. Trailing 13-5, Caldwell rallied for six runs on only one hit, a Jack Zosulis (East Windsor, N.J.) grand slam, in the ninth before Felician's Frankie Polanco (Union City, N.J.) obtained the final two outs.
Condito finished 4 for 5 with a double and a triple. He scored three runs and drove in two. Junior catcher Carlos Bermudez (Miami, Fla.) (three runs, two RBI) joined Martinez with three hits each, and Downey picked up three RBI. Felician totaled 17 hits
Senior L.T. Struble (Hammonton, N.J.), Felician's everyday shortstop, made his first pitching appearance of the season in Game 2, starting at pitcher/designated hitter. He tossed a solid four innings, giving up a run on one hit and two walks while striking out five Cougars.
With the game scheduled for seven innings, Martinez's two-run home run in the third proved to be a big blow, extending Felician's one-run lead to a 4-1 advantage. After Felician tacked on two more in the sixth on Jordan Folgers' (Moriches, N.Y.) pinch-hit, two-run double, Struble gave way to the Golden Falcon bullpen, which bent but held on to give the right-hander his first collegiate pitching victory.
Downey finished 2 for 4 with a triple and three RBI and Condito was 2 for 3 plus a walk. Danny Healey Jr. (Brookhaven, Pa.) drew three walks and scored three runs, and Martinez totaled three RBI. Anthony Parente (Jackson, N.J.) hit a sixth-inning, two-run homer for Caldwell.
Langan, in his 16th season, owns a won-lost record of 400-385 (.510), including a mark of 222-127 (.636) in regular-season CACC play. A three-time CACC Coach of the Year, his Golden Falcon teams have won two league championships and four conference regular-season crowns while making three NCAA Tournament appearances.
"I remember thinking after two years of this that I was in over my head and that we need to make some big changes or we will never get better," Langan said. "With the support of my family and the Felician administration, we started on the path of reaching program goals. Eventually, our players went from just hoping to win, to expecting to win."
The Golden Falcons host another CACC regionally-ranked squad, defending conference champion Wilmington (Del.) University, in a noon doubleheader on Tuesday in Lyndhurst.