LOCAL CONNECTIONS: Rolka helps Delaware reach CAA tournament

May 23—By splitting a doubleheader with Monmouth University, the University of Delaware baseball team clinched a berth in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament for the first time since 2018.

After losing the opener, the Blue Hens took the nightcap, 3-0, behind the combined one-hitter of redshirt junior Nate Rolka (Lackawanna Trail) and Anthony Gubitosi.

Rolka started and went a career-high six innings, allowing just a first-inning single. He walked two and struck out six, which also is a career-high. It was Delaware's first shutout of the season.

The effort earned Rolka CAA co-Pitcher of the Week for the period of May 15-21.

"Going into today, I was just hoping to be competitive out there," Rolka said on the Delaware athletic website. "I've been struggling to find the zone, and when I have found it, I have gotten hit around a bit, but I felt that I had a good mentality today. I feel best on the mound when I'm relaxed, and everything fell into place."

This season, Rolka has appeared in 15 games with 11 starts. He is 2-4 with a 6.89 earned-run average and has 31 strikeouts in 32.2 innings.

Delaware (29-27 overall, 17-13 league) is the No. 5 seed for the CAA Tournament and faces No. 4 Charleston Wednesday at noon in the opener Wednesday at noon in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.

Soaring Hawk

Saint Joseph's University baseball sophomore Ryan Cesarini (Valley View) hit safely in the final 13 games of the regular season. During that span, he had eight multi-hit games and batted .521 (25 for 48) with seven doubles, four home runs, 16 runs and 26 RBIs.

The hitting streak enabled Cesarini to rise to the top of the Atlantic 10 Conference in batting average at .402 (74 for 184). His 74 hits rank fifth in the conference, he is tied for fourth with 54 RBIs and tied for sixth with 17 doubles. He also is third in slugging percentage at .647, fourth in on-base percentage at .484 and second in OPS at 1.131.

Cesarini's hot bat helped the Hawks clinch their first A-10 regular-season championship. They are the top seed for the A10 Tournament, which begins Tuesday in Richmond, Virginia, and will play the winner of No. 4 Saint Louis and No. 5 Richmond on Wednesday at 11 a.m.


Long Island University baseball redshirt junior Jake Mastillo (North Pocono) has been doing damage this season with his bat. Recently, he did some with his arm.

Mastillo threw out the potential tying run at the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning for a game-ending double play, preserving a 3-2 win over Wagner University. The runner tried to tag up from third base on a fly ball to Mastillo in left field.

"I saw the ball between (center fielder) Jarod (Wade) and me, and in my own head, I'm like, 'I'm taking this ball,'" Mastillo said on the LIU athletic website. "I wanted it so badly. Honestly, it was all a blur. It's one of those things where everything our coaches do every day just comes forward."

The victory clinched a Northeast Conference Tournament berth for LIU. The defending NEC champion Sharks are the No. 5 seed and will face No. 4 Sacred Heart University on Wednesday at 3 p.m. in Wappingers Falls, New York. Sacred Heart features sophomore Zack Kovalchik (Valley View). In 51 games, Kovalchik is batting .223 (45 for 202) with 10 doubles, five home runs and 31 RBIs.

Quick connects

Princeton University baseball senior Noah Granet (Scranton Prep) went 3 for 4 with a two-run double in a 10-3 win over Harvard University in an elimination game at the inaugural Ivy League Tournament, advancing the Tigers to Monday's championship game. However, they lost to top-seeded Penn, 16-3. ... Wofford College baseball junior Dixon Black (Valley View) had three hits, including a double, and one RBI in a 7-5 win over The Citadel that completed a three-game series sweep. Black is batting .318 (69 for 217) with 13 doubles, two triples, seven home runs, 51 runs and 46 RBIs. He ranks fourth in the Southern Conference in at-bats and is tied for seventh in runs. The Terriers are the No. 3 seed for the SoCon Tournament and begin play Thursday at 7 p.m. against the UNC-Greensboro-Western Carolina winner. ... Lehigh University baseball senior Ryan Deom (North Pocono) was named to the Patriot League All-Academic Team and the College Sports Communicators Academic All-District Team. Deom has a 3.85 GPA as a biology major. This season, he made a career-high 17 appearances and had a 1-1 record with one save, 19 strikeouts in 24 innings and a team-low 3.00 ERA. ... Sophomore Casey Serine (North Pocono) is a member of the Penn State-Dubois baseball team that won the Pennsylvania State University Athletic Conference title, then captured the USCAA Small College national championship for the fourth time since 2018.

SCOTT WALSH covers area college athletes and teams in Local Connections. Contact him at; 570 348-9100 ext. 5109; and follow him @swalshTT on Twitter.


is the final Local Connections column for the

2022-23 season.