Colon, Lutz lead Dukes into National Championship game

Christian Lutz drilled a 3-run Home Run in the 3rd inning to boost the Dukes offense to victory
Christian Lutz drilled a 3-run Home Run in the 3rd inning to boost the Dukes offense to victory

The Cumberland County College Dukes baseball team traveled nearly 600 miles to face off a team located approximately 25 minutes away for the right to play in the National Championship game. Cumberland took on the Rowan-Gloucester Roadrunners in the winner's bracket final with the winner advancing to the National Championship game.

The Dukes entered the matchup losing 2 of the 3 matchups against the Roadrunners in 2019, with the most recent matchup resulting in the Dukes losing to RCGC in the Region XIX Final Four. As the #3 seed, Cumberland were set on a collision course with RCGC, who was tabbed as the #1 seed and on the other side of the World Series bracket. After both teams won their first two contests, the stage was set for the heavyweight matchup between regional rivals.

Cumberland came out swinging with a 3-run first inning buoyed by a pair of infield miscues by the Roadrunners. However, Rowan-Gloucester came right back to score 3 runs in their half of the first, an early indication on how this contest would go. RCGC would take a 5-3 lead in the 2nd inning and it looked like they were settled in and ready to take the game over. However, Christian Lutz had other plans. The freshman DH (2 for 5, HR, 4 RBIs, 2 R) deposited an offspeed pitch deep into the Tennessee night with a 3-run home run that sent the message that the Dukes were not going away.

Through the 4th, 5th, and 6th innings, both teams would trade runs en route to 5 lead changes with the Roadrunners coming out of the 6th inning with an 11-10 lead. After both teams failed to score in the 7th, the first full scoreless inning of the night, Cumberland exploded for 5 runs in the 8th. The Dukes would start the inning with three straight singles by Nicholas Milhan, Donnie Stone, and Christian Lutz, which would score Milhan to tie the game. Brian Gallante would follow with a walk to bring Matt Spaeth to the plate, who would drive the first pitch he saw to right field to score Lutz. Ja'Ques Colon would officially put his stamp on last night's game with a deep drive to left centerfield for a triple which would score Spaeth and Gallante. Ryan McIsaac would follow with a hard hit ball to second base which would be mishandled, allowing Colon to score to bring the lead to 15-11.

In the 9th, the duo of Jose Rodriguez and Michael Miles would pair up to close the door on the Roadrunners who would plate 2 in the inning. However, the Dukes would end the threat and help the Dukes advance to the National Championship with a 15-13 victory.

Ja'Ques Colon lead the Dukes in a crowded field as the team pounded out 21 hits on the night. Colon went 4 for 5 with 2 doubles and 2 triples, including 2 RBIs and 3 runs scored. Donnie Stone and Dylan Scaranda each had 3 hits, with Ryan McIsaac, Vincent Napolitano, Lutz, Gallante, and Spaeth each pitching in with 2 hits apiece.

On the mound, the normally stout Cumberland staff worked their way through struggles to give their offense just enough time to maintain speed with the Roadrunners and eventually take them over. Matthew Maselli got the starting nod for the Dukes and eventually gave way to Anthony Masselli. Brian Bromley would relieve Masselli who would then hand the ball of the Jose Rodriguez, the winning pitcher for the Dukes. Michael Miles would come in and face one batter, who would ground out to give Miles his first save of the season.

Cumberland now awaits to see how they will face on Wednesday night.  Rowan-Gloucester will now face the winner between Game 12 participants, Century College (MN) and Brookhaven College (TX). The Dukes would then face the winner of Rowan-Gloucester and the winner of Game 12.