This one felt super.
The No. 5 NYIT baseball team defeated No. 4 Wilmington, 6-3, in the NCAA Division II East 1 Regional final at Adelphi’s Bonomo field Saturday afternoon, advancing to next weekend’s best-of-three Super Regional. The Bears will take on either LIU Post or Southern New Hampshire. The site is to be determined.
The victory also set the program record for wins in a season as NYIT (35-14) swept through regional play with three wins in three days.
“It means a lot to all of us,” said pitcher DJ Masuck, who picked up the save. “There’s an energy that’s completely different than before. It’s higher and more intense and it’s been great.”
NYIT took a 3-0 lead in the second inning, but Wilmington (40-18) pulled even with a pair of runs in the top of the eighth.
It was enough to set the Bears back on their heels and first-year coach Frank Catalanotto said the team rallied in the dugout, focusing on, literally, getting back into the swing of things.
“It was starting to feel like we were on the losing end and we weren’t,” Catalanotto said. “There was a discussion to have good at bats and score runs. Guys started to focus a little bit more.”
NYIT answered with three runs in the bottom of the frame, sparked by EJ Cumbo, who worked a leadoff walk and scored the go-ahead from third on Ryan Kuskoswski’s RBI fielder’s choice. Matt DeAngelis added an RBI single and Matt Malone chipped in an RBI double, padding the lead to give the Bears some much-needed breathing room.
“We know we can hit, we’ve been doing it all year,” said DeAngelis, who finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs. “So, we were trying to make sure we didn’t get too anxious and trusted our skills.”
Masuck, who threw 134 pitches in the opening-game win over Wilmington, took the mound in the ninth, looking to close out the game, but the Wildcats didn’t make it easy. Wilmington put two runners on and brought the tying run to the plate twice.
Still, Masuck said he wasn’t worried. He forced two straight ground balls, fielding the final out at first as NYIT started celebrating in the infield.
“As soon as I saw the grounder, I automatically went to cover first,” Masuck said. “I just made sure to get my foot on the bag.”
It’s been a historic spring for NYIT, which came into the postseason with only one NCAA Tournament win in program history, but the Bears are far from satisfied. They’re looking to keep winning, not sure who or where they’ll play next, but confident they’ll be able to contend with anything.
“These guys are so resilient,” Catalanotto said. “We keep coming back and fighting and it shows the character of this team."