The reigning 2017 D3 Region 19 Baseball Champions are off to another great start as they charged out of the gates winning four of their first five games of the 2018 campaign. After Saturday rain pushed the Dukes Home Opener to Sunday, they opened the season with a doubleheader against the Luzerne County Community College Trailblazers. The Dukes then hosted a pair of NJCAA Region 19 Division 2 opponents, Mercer County CC and Delaware Tech CC, later in the week to finish out the their opening slate of games.
In the season opening doubleheader, the Dukes started out winning game 1 by the score of 31-0. Cumberland launched themselves into the season as they scored 22 runs in the first 3 innings, led by Brian Gallante who went 4 for 5 with a home run. Gallante was involved in 8 of the 31 runs as he knocked in 4 RBIs and scored 4 runs of his own. Following Gallante's lead was fellow freshmen Ryan McIssac as he went 3 for 5 and was a triple shy of the cycle. McIssac had 4 RBIs and scored 5 runs.
Not to be outdone, a pair of sophomore pitchers held Luzerne hitless for an opening day combined no-hitter. Steve Bowley, a Shepherd University (D2) commit, took the hill on opening day and pitched 5 strong innings, yielding 1 walk and striking out 6. Bowley was relieved by Brandon Staub, a returnee from last year's Region Championship team and a Kutztown University (D2) commit. Staub, a crafty lefty, closed the door as he pitched the final 2 innings walking 1 and striking out 3.
In game 2 of the doubleheader, Cumberland stormed out of the gates riding the wave of game 1. The Cumberland offense put up 17 runs in the first inning to lead them to a 29-4 victory. Overall, the Dukes knocked around 16 hits with 11 different Dukes reaching base via hits. Freshmen Darrius Land, Francisco Laureano, and Dylan Scaranda each went 2 for 2 scoring 5 of the 29 runs amongst them. Eli Agostini, a Franklinville, NJ native, had himself a career day in his first career collegiate start. The freshmen first basemen had 3 hits, 6 RBIs, and crossed the plate twice to set the pace for the offense.
RHP Brian Bromley also had his first career start and performed well. Bromley scattered 5 hits in 4 innings, giving up 2 runs and striking out 5. He would be relieved by Jules Massella who would come on and pitch the final inning. The game would conclude in the 5th inning due to darkness.
The following day pitted two nationally ranked teams against each other as the Mercer County CC Vikings came to town. Mercer and the Dukes both won Region 19 championships last year and both programs enter the season as the 3rd ranked team in the country in their divisions, respectively.
In a game where two historically strong offensive programs faced off, it would be the pitching that would take center stage in this matchup. Cumberland and Mercer pitchers combined for 24 strikeouts as runs were scored in only 4 innings. Freshman Anthony Capasso took the ball in game 1, put in 4 innings of work, striking out 7, scattering 4 hits, and gave up 3 runs. The reigning Region 19 Pitcher of the Year, Jarrett Quinn, took the hill in relief of Capasso and turned in a strong performance to build off of last year's success. Quinn pitched 3 solid innings, giving up a run and pulled in 4 strikeouts.
The effort on the mound could not inspire the Dukes offense as they would fall to Mercer, 4-2.
This past Saturday, the Dukes got back on the right track as they hosted the Delaware Tech Roadrunners for a Region 19 doubleheader.
Ryan McIssac again led the Cumberland offense as he went 3 for 4 with 2 RBIs and 2 Runs scored. He would be followed by OF/LHP Misael Castillo, who pulled in 2 hits and scored 2 runs, and Brian Gallante who went 2 for 2 with 2 runs scored as well. Castillo was a member of the 2017 Region Championship team. Jarrett Quinn took the ball in his first start of the 2018 campaign and went 4 innings strong, striking out 4. Sophomore Eric Petroski made his first appearance of the season, coming on in the 7th inning to close the game. Overall, 7 Dukes scored 1 or more runs to methodically defeat Delaware Tech by a score of 13-2.
In game 2, the Cumberland Offense took advantage of defensive miscues by Delaware tech as they charged to an 11-0 victory. The Dukes would score 6 runs in the first two innings and that is all starter, Anthony Capasso, would need. Capasso, starting in just his second career start, would turn in a masterful performance. Capasso pitched 5 terrific innings, giving up 2 hits and striking out 10. He would be followed by freshmen, Jose Rodriguez and Nick Hillesheim, who would pitch the final two innings and each register a strikeout in their innings, respectively.
The Dukes next take the field on Wednesday, Feburary 28th as they will open up conference play and host the Atlantic Cape Buccaneers. First pitch is slated for 3 PM.
Game 1 Luzerne - Box Score
Game 2 Luzerne - Box Score
Game 3 Mercer CC - Box Score
Game 4 Del Tech - Box Score
Game 5 Del Tech - Box Score