Kean baseball takes on California


Getting ready to catch the ball. Photo Courtesy of Richard Ferguson

Getting ready to catch the ball.
Photo Courtesy of Richard Ferguson

By Brittany Pavlichko | Published April 6, 2017

While spring break was a time to relax and unwind, it was the opposite for Kean University’s baseball team as they traveled to California to play tough teams.

In California, the Cougars lost two of their six games stating it was a challenge competing against good teams. They played against University of Redlands, California Lutheran University, University of La Verne, Chapman University, Occidental College and Whittier College and won against Redland and Whittier.

“There were games we could have won, there were just a few aspects of our game that was off,” said Matt Krupa, infielder. “Playing against those teams is always a challenge that requires everyone to be as sharp as possible and unfortunately it didn’t happen as much as we hoped out there.”

During their day off in California, they took a trip to Los Angeles to see the Hollywood sign and went to Venice and Santa Monica beaches where they saw historical landmarks and were able to walk around a new environment. They also got to experience playing on different fields with different teams which they looked forward to.

“Besides the warm weather, In n Out burger and palm trees all around , the best part about California was to compete against a couple of the better teams from the West Coast in our division and see how their playing styles compare to those that we are used to in New Jersey,” said Derek Walker, centerfielder. “It was great seeing all of the beautiful fields as well as enjoying an awesome trip with my best friends despite the outcome of some of our games.”

Additionally, the Cougars started out the season strong with a four-game win streak against Stevens Institute of Technology, Gwynedd Mercy University, The College of Brockport and Desales University. They used a balanced scoring attack for their first win of the season. But, they broke their winning streak to SUNY Old Westbury with a close score of 5-4 and hope to set a goal of winning the national championship by the end of this season.

“The loss was definitely a tough one, but baseball is a game of failures and losses happen,” said Krupa. “I truly believe we all just have to click and we will be a force to be reckoned with.”

Going forward with the season, the outfield is looking to place an emphasis on the small details in the game.

”We didn’t do a very good job of executing on the little parts of the game and I believe if we did, our record out in California would be a whole lot different,” said Walker. If you look closely at each game we had a chance at winning all of them and the fact of the matter is that we didn’t play up to our expectations.

Also, during the first week of their season, Mike Occhi, senior pitcher and Nick Polizzano, freshman infielder has been named the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) pitcher and rookie of the week. Occhi has been honored for his win on the mound against Gwynedd-Mercy. He retired 15-of-17 batters, allowing four scoreless innings, with allowing only one hit and striking out seven. While, Polizzano hits .250 with a double, one RBI (runs batted in) and two runs scored in a 3-0 opening week.

“It feels great to win it,” said Occhi. “Every time I go out there I just want to do my job and help my team win in every way that I can.”

As of April 3, the Cougars are now 20 games into the season. They will enter their second conference game at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 6 at Ramapo College.

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