“The Rangers are Coming in Hot!”: Inside Baseball’s Start to the 2023 Season

By Devan Sutaria | Staff Writer

10 mins read
Image of the 2023 baseball team courtesy of @drewubaseball

The Drew Rangers baseball team faced many questions coming into this season, perhaps none larger than how the team would flip the script after two disappointing seasons. The Rangers finished their COVID-shortened 2021 season empty-handed, going 0-18, but after hiring new Head Coach Brian Eberly, they swiftly improved, finishing 10-28 in 2022. However, there was a different feeling around this year’s team, causing many in the organization to set much higher goals than in years past. 

The 2021 and 2022 rosters laid a solid foundation built on team chemistry and disciplined work ethic. However, 2023’s team came out of the gates with a chip on its shoulder and the motive of proving to the rest of the conference what a team with a talented 38-person roster could do in the Landmark Conference. 

The 2023 season began with a hard-fought battle with the Kean University Cougars, which the Rangers lost in walk-off fashion by a score of 8-7. Since that opening loss, the Rangers have strung together nine straight wins, breaking the school record of seven wins in a row set by the 2017 team. Behind a high-powered offense and impressive pitching and defense, the Rangers scored 88 runs over the course of the win streak while surrendering just 48. 

The streak began with two wins over Mount St. Vincent, giving the Rangers momentum that they carried into the annual Battle of Madison Avenue, in which Drew, Fairleigh Dickinson University and St. Elizabeth’s University all play each other over the course of a weekend. 

Image of Nick Pellegrino (’23) courtesy of drewrangers.com

After defeating St. Elizabeth’s by a score of 9-3 behind a balanced, all-around effort, the Rangers were set to face the Fairleigh Dickinson University Devils with the Battle of Madison Avenue title on the line. This game featured an offensive explosion from the Rangers, who beat their crosstown rivals with a score of 20-2. On the defensive side, behind dominant starts on back-to-back days from captain Gio DeGiglio (‘23) and Kenny Yonker (‘25), the Rangers gave up just five runs over their two-game run, complementing the 29 runs that the Rangers scored. 

“We have a very talented and special group of guys here,” said pitcher Nick Pellegrino (‘23) “There is always room for improvement, but I think we are in a really good position to compete going forward.” 

After completing one of the team’s pre-season goals in winning the Battle of Madison Avenue, the team traveled to Florida for their annual spring break trip, where they competed in the RussMatt Invitational in Auburndale. Having not trailed for a single pitch in any of their five games leading up to the Florida trip, the Rangers faced a new challenge when they found themselves trailing 6-0 to Elms College in just the second inning of the first game. Facing adversity for the first time this season, the Rangers bent but refused to break, a phrase that would come to define the team’s entire Florida trip. 

The Rangers roared back with seven runs of their own to combat the deficit and send the game into extra innings tied 7-7. After Elms scored a run in the tenth inning to give themselves an 8-7 advantage, the Rangers again displayed their resilience and rallied to win the game. Shortstop Anthony Diaz (‘24) singled to lead off the inning, followed by a game-tying double by captain William Fritch (‘25), which built up to the ultimate walk-off single by first baseman Nate Miller (‘24). 

This game set the tone for the remainder of the Rangers’ win streak, as the team showed they could win in a number of styles. The Rangers dominated opponents from the first pitch to the last out as they did against Cazenovia University, winning 14-3 behind an 11-run explosion in the sixth inning with dominant pitching from Brandon Kobryn (‘26) and Joseph Caggiano (‘23). On the flip side, the Rangers displayed their ability to win back-and-forth affairs through resilient pitching and timely hitting. Clutch pitching outings from Dominic Goodenough (‘25), TJ Shuman (‘24), Brian Lavelle (‘24) and Kyle Johnson (‘26) assisted the Rangers in their six wins against Gordon College, both of which saw the Rangers rally to take the lead in the final frame.

Though the Rangers’ win streak ended at the hands of Fitchburg State, closing out their Florida trip in a hard-fought, extra-inning loss, the Rangers were proud of their record-breaking streak and were optimistically looking forward to their conference schedule. Miller, the team’s first baseman and cleanup hitter, expressed his views on the team’s success and outlook following the streak. 

“This is the type of start we knew we were capable of,” said Miller, “and it shows the potential this group of guys has to make a run. I expect us to keep playing well and, if we play our way, there’s no reason we can’t make a serious run at the conference championship.”

Image of Nate Miller (’24) courtesy of Chris Pedota

The Rangers opened up their conference schedule against Moravian this past weekend, with hopes of carrying the momentum they created during the first part of their season. Playing at the remodeled Doc Young Field for the first time all season, the Rangers fought back and forth with the Greyhounds in the first game of the three-game set, coming back from a 7-2 deficit capped off by a two-run home run by captain KJ Hallgren (‘23).

Their comeback effort fell short, as Moravian took an 8-7 lead in the last inning that the Rangers were unable to match. The next game featured a similar scenario with the Rangers, coming back from an early 3-0 deficit to tie the game 7-7. However, another late score by Moravian allowed them to regain the lead for the remainder of the game, winning 8-7. 

Now down 0-2 in the series, the Rangers needed to earn a win in the rubber game of the three-game set. Falling behind 6-1, the Rangers went on a 10-1 scoring run to win the game 11-7 and earn a much-needed win against solid opponent Moravian. Anthony Hernandez (‘24), Luis Fuentes (‘24), Ryan Jones (‘25) and Dallas Lorenzetti (‘25) led the offense in an impressive showing, each collecting multiple hits, while Pellegrino shut down Moravian’s offense en route to five scoreless innings. 

As the Rangers look ahead to their upcoming games, they have every reason to maintain optimism and confidence as they continue to push for the conference playoffs. The Rangers boast the conference’s most prolific offense, scoring more runs than any other Landmark team, while their pitching staff has surrendered the second-fewest earned runs, trailing only the Catholic Cardinals. The team’s outfield trio of Jones, Hernandez and Raiden Yost (‘25)—who doubles as a pitcher—all reside in the top 10 for batting average in the conference, and the slick-fielding defense headlined by Lorenzetti, Diaz, Miller and catcher Billy Coleman (‘24) has allowed opponents to average just four earned runs a game. Complemented by a strong pitching staff, the Rangers are primed to continue their hot stretch and reverse the narrative of the Drew baseball team in the process.

Devan Sutaria is a first-year majoring in biochemistry and minoring in public health.

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