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The Talon

The Talon

William Paterson University Baseball Team’s Opening Day Victory!

Image from William Paterson Baseball team’s twitter

After a long awaited offseason, prolonged by a snow storm in North Jersey, the William Paterson University Pioneers (WPU) were itching to get back on that baseball diamond.


 On Tuesday, February 21 the Pioneers hosted Nichols College at Jeff Albies Field for the start of their 2024 campaign. The team graduated many in 2023 and had lots of positions open up. With the departure of Steve Yelin, Colin Lombardo, Carson Weis, and many others, the team and Head Coach Mike Lauterhahn were left with many questions to be answered, and some of those answers came on Tuesday. 


Darmany Rivas got the nod for WPU on opening day. The senior was cruising through the early innings, striking out four in his first two frames of work. He finished with seven strikeouts through five innings and only allowed one run to come across the plate. Not much more a manager could ask for from their starting pitcher, a very solid outing. 


One specific play saved the game for the Pioneers. There were two outs in the top of the fourth, and a runner on second when senior Andrew Croteau of Nichols College smacked a line drive right back up the middle. Rounding third came junior Karl Miller only to be cut down by WPU center fielder Jake Lutz. Lutz could not have made a better throw. He put that ball on a line and right where it needed to be for the catcher to make a play on it. Although the team and everyone knew this was an outstanding play at that moment, it makes it even better to think the game finished in a one run difference. 


WPU responded to Nichols’ one run with a run of their own in the bottom of the third. This came on a towering triple from second baseman Tom Radigan. Neither team scored a run until the bottom of the fifth when WPU took a one run lead via a Tyler Ruban RBI single.


However, the momentum the Pioneers had came to a screeching halt in top of the 6th inning when Brennan Hyde split the gap for a bases clearing double catapulting Nichols in front 4-2. They didn’t stop there, adding another three runs in the top of the 7th, the score now being 7-2 Nichols.


Going into the bottom of the 7th, WPU felt the urgency to get something going. Giovanni Aresta got the party started with a lead off first pitch single, followed by a Will Pitt single and then another triple from Tom Radigan, driving in both Pitt and Aresta. Jake Lutz joined in the fun with a single, bringing home Radigan. With the game now 7-5, the win didn’t seem so out of reach anymore. 


Senior Noah Cabassa came up to plate looking to keep the train moving. Cabassa grounded the ball right back to the pitcher, looking like a potential inning ending double play for Nichols, but the baseball Gods were on the Pioneers side in this play. The pitcher rushed the throw to second, pulling the shortstop off the bag, everyone was safe. Junior transfer RJ Mehnert then came up to the plate in his first game as a Pioneer as the potential go-ahead run. A wild pitch allowed the runners to move up one base, now being second and third with one out. Only a simple base hit would’ve tied up this game, but that wasn’t enough for Mehnert who launched a 3-2 pitch off the rocks in center field putting WPU up 8-7. The Pioneers dugout was straight pandemonium. 


Nichols managed to stop the bleeding and get out of the 7th without surrendering anymore runs. Unfortunately for Nichols, Jeff Albies Field does not have lights and it was getting harder and harder to see the ball. For this reason the umpires had to call the game early, so the Pioneers ended up coming out on top of this “instant classic” game. Huge opening day win for WPU, starting the year off in the win column.


Stay tuned for more William Paterson University baseball updates.

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About the Contributor
Colin McAllister
Colin McAllister, Talon Co-Editor-in-Chief
Talon Co-Editor-in-Chief McAllister has been in the Communications and Journalism Program for three years and is a member of the Class of 2025. He is an avid fan of the New York Yankees and plays baseball for the high school.