Baseball Update: Top-ranked Dukes closing in on postseason

The Top-ranked Dukes have won 35 of their last 36 games since an early season loss.
The Top-ranked Dukes have won 35 of their last 36 games since an early season loss.

After a victory over #3 ranked Northampton, the Cumberland Dukes Baseball team have gone 3-1 heading into the final week of the season.  On Tuesday, the Dukes faced rival Rowan-Gloucester in a rematch of a 9-inning thriller that Cumberland came out victorious 1-0, behind a complete game one hitter by Michael Miles and the game-winning HR by Nicholas Milhan.

#6 ranked Rowan-Gloucester blitzed the #1 ranked Dukes with 3 first inning runs, a deficit Cumberland would not recover from.  The Dukes would claw their way back to get within a run, scoring 2 runs in the 6th to bring the score to 5-4. However, the Roadrunners would add 2 runs in the 8th en route to a 7-5 victory.  The loss would snap Cumberland's 31-game winning streak. In 2017, the Dukes set the state college record of winning 33 games in a row.

The Dukes returned to the field two days later to host Division 1 ASA College from Brooklyn, NY.  After seeing the Avengers just a week ago, ASA came prepared with a gameplan that kept the game close with Cumberland leading 4-1 heading into the bottom of the 8th. Sophomore 1B, Vincent Napolitano, provided the insurance runs for the Dukes with a 3-run HR to bring the lead to 7-1, which would be the eventual final score.

On Saturday, the Dukes traveled to Red Bank, NJ to take on the #8 Brookdale Jersey Blues. In one of the most anticipated pitching matchups of the year, Cumberland sent out Michael Miles to the mound to face Brookdale's Justin Fall. Both starters considered top recruits as well as potential draft picks in this year's upcoming MLB Draft. Miles and Fall did not disappoint. However, the Dukes manufactured a run in the 3rd which looked like all that Miles would need. He would pitch a 9 inning gem with 12 strikeouts, but would give up the game-tying homerun in the bottom of the 9th to tie the score at 1.  The Dukes would immediately regain the lead in the 10th before Anthony Masselli came in the close the game for a 2-1 win in game 1.

In game 2, it was all Cumberland highlighted by a 3-run 6th inning. Leading 2-0 going into the 6th, Cumberland would score 3 on RBIs by Nick Lonetto, Brian Gallante, and Ja'Ques Colon.  That would be all Cumberland needed as they went on the win 5-1. The pitching staff of Jose Rodriguez, Joseph Nestel, Brian Bromley, and Nick Hillesheim held the Jersey Blues down giving up just one run. Rodriguez got the starting nod going 5 innings giving up one run, scattering 2 hits while striking out 7. The bullpen kept Brookdale in check from there with Hillesheim closing it out for the Dukes.

Currently the Dukes are atop of the standings in Region XIX with an overall record of 36-2 and a region record of 16-1.  They are back in action on Tuesday, April 30, as they host Division II Mercer County. First pitch is scheduled for 3:30 PM.