Garden City, N.Y. — The NYIT baseball team set a program record for wins in a season on Saturday. And that barely registered among the reasons to celebrate during a raucous postgame outpouring.
The Bears defeated Wilmington, 6-3, at Adelphi's Bonomo Field to sweep through their first regional appearance in 36 years and advance to next weekend's best-of-three Super Regional at Southern New Hampshire.
NYIT defeated Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference champion Wilmington, Northeast-10 Conference champion Franklin Pierce, then Wilmington again in a three-day span to improve to 35-14 on the season.
The victory allowed the 2019 Bears to pass their 1987 counterparts (34-18-2) for the most wins in program history.
NYIT entered this postseason with only one NCAA Tournament win in program history — in the 1980 opener against Le Moyne. The program had not posted a winning season in 13 years.
However, longtime major leaguer Frank Catalanotto, hired last June as head coach, has reinvigorated a once-distinguished program. He now has guided the Bears within two wins of their first-ever College World Series.
In Saturday's clincher, Wilmington pulled even at 3 with a two-run top of the eighth. However, NYIT answered with three runs in the bottom half as EJ Cumbo walked and ultimately scored from third on Ryan Kuskowski's run-scoring fielder's choice. Matt DeAngelis — who had opened the scoring in a three-run second inning with an RBI double — this time padded NYIT's lead with an RBI single. And Matt Malone followed with a run-scoring double.
DJ Masuck, who tossed 134 pitches in a win against Wilmington in Thursday's regional opener, entered for the ninth and shut the door to pitch NYIT into the Super Regional.
"It didn't matter. I had everything left in the tank," Masuck said.
Said DeAngelis, a senior who went 2-for-3 with two RBIs: "We didn't really have the showing we wanted in the conference tournament, so this is really meaningful."
On the mound, Chris Mott continued the sturdy starting pitching produced by Masuck in the opener and Joseph Murphy in Game 2.
Mott, who had struggled to close the regular season and in the East Coast Conference tourney, took a scoreless effort into the sixth inning against Wilmington.
He eventually turned the ball over to freshman left-hander Dean Fazah in the sixth with the bases loaded and two outs and the Wildcats having clawed to within 3-1. Fazah proceeded to fall behind — three balls and one strike — before coaxing an inning-ending flyout in foul territory down the right-field line.
It marked the third time Fazah had inherited the bases loaded this season. He now has stranded all of those runners, and a team-best 19 of 20 inherited baserunners overall during his freshman season.
Fazah pitched into the eighth inning.
Then, Zach White — who closed out Friday's win against Franklin Pierce with three scoreless innings — took over for Fazah after a leadoff walk. White surrendered a one-out double that placed the tying run in scoring position and departed. Freshman Ryan Mueller entered and Wilmington evened the scoring at 3 on a sacrifice fly and hard-hit infield single down the line that a diving third baseman Kieran Dowd smothered with a highlight-reel catch.
No matter. NYIT answered with three runs in their half and are Super Regional-bound. Oh, they also set the program's single-season record for wins.
"It means that we put in a lot of work," Catalanotto said. "These guys have responded well. I knew in the beginning, when I first got the job, that with this coaching staff and with what we can teach them, we could win a lot of games. I didn't imagine we'd go this far. But with how these guys have responded, I feel like we can win the College World Series now. These guys are so resilient. They keep fighting. And we can hit with anybody."
Provided by the NYIT Sports Information Department.