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Cougars Walk Off in 11 vs. Eagles

Posted Tuesday, May 13, 2014 by Ben Grilli

Baseball – Cougars Walk Off in 11 vs. Eagles
By Matt Manley May 13, 2014 7:25 AM
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LAKEWOOD – Colts Neck junior catcher Jordan Gonzalez had four chances prior to his final at-bat of the game to end a Monmouth County Tournament semifinal marathon between his Cougars and Shore Conference Class A North rival Middletown South Monday night at FirstEnergy Park – twice on offense and twice on defense.

After helplessly watching two wild pitches go by him during a furious seventh-inning rally by Middletown South, then twice failing to drive in the winning run with two out, Gonzalez stopped worrying about coming up short and got back to doing what he and his teammates have done all year in close games.


Colts Neck senior Gianni Magliaro pitched six one-hit innings against Middletown South before all hell broke loose in the top of the seventh inning. (Photo by Matt Manley)
Gonzalez delivered a two-out, game-winning single to the warning track in left field in the bottom of the 11th inning to score junior Tyler Kapuscinski from third, ending a three-hour-and-49-minute marathon that saw Colts Neck prevail, 6-5. Colts Neck is now 8-2 in one-run games this season with three of those wins coming at the expense of Middletown South.

“These are our kind of games,” Gonzalez said of the extra-inning affair, which was also delayed one hour at the start due to rain. “We’ve been in these situations all season long, and we have learned to embrace it. Even when things aren’t going our way and it seems like we’re going to lose, we always believe we’re going to find a way.”

Colts Neck will not only play No. 8 Christian Brothers Academy for the MCT championship Wednesday night at FirstEnergy Park, but will also play the Colts the following day at CBA with a chance to win the outright Class A North title.

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Middletown South stormed back from a 5-0, seventh-inning deficit by scoring five runs on only one hit in the top of the seventh against Colts Neck’s bullpen, which has been among the most effective relief corps in the Shore Conference this season. The final two of those runs scored on wild pitches by submarine-throwing senior right-hander Robbie Warendorf that Gonzalez could not stop.

“It takes a few pitches to get used to tracking the ball when it’s coming from down there, especially after catching an over-the-top righty and a three-quarter lefty,” Gonzalez said. “But I pride myself on playing good defense, and I was disappointed I couldn’t help (Warendorf) out.”

Gonzalez also struck out with a runner on second and two out in the bottom of the seventh inning and popped to second base with the bases loaded for the final out of the ninth before getting one more opportunity in the 11th  inning. Kapuscinski smoked a two-out triple to the wall in right-center field and Gianni Magliaro and center fielder Mike Antico were intentionally walked in front of him to give him another shot to end it.

“The first two times I got up with a chance to win it, I was so consumed with making sure I didn’t mess up,” Gonzalez said. “That last at-bat, I went up looking to win the game. I wasn’t worried about failing. I just had it in my mind that I was going to come through.”

After working the count to 2-and-2 against Middletown South reliever and starting shortstop Kyle Brey, Gonzalez got what he was looking for.

“I was looking fastball all the way, and I was lucky he gave it to me,” Gonzalez said. “If he had thrown the curve, I probably would have looked pretty bad.”

Antico made a spectacular defensive play in center field in the top of the 11th to preserve the tie and allow for Gonzalez’s heroics. With Middletown South center fielder Nolan Pereless on second base and one out, Eagles left fielder Joe Timmins lofted a fly ball to deep left-center field. Antico, shaded toward the right-center gap at the beginning of the play, closed on the ball over his head and in the gap and caught it with a full-extension dive over his right shoulder.

Although he missed some earlier chances to end the game, Gonzalez also combined with Warendorf to extend the game with a hustle play in the top of the eighth inning. Warendorf again threw a pitch past Gonzalez with a runner on third base, but this time, Gonzalez blocked it enough to slow it down. The junior backstop ran the ball down and threw it to Warendorf, who tagged Zach deRocco on the left shoulder as he blocked the plate.

“I didn’t even see the tag,” Gonzalez said. “I just ran to the ball as quick as I could and just threw it toward the plate. I didn’t even see if (Robbie) was there.”

Middletown South coach Ryan Spillane argued the call with the home plate umpire and was eventually ejected.
 

“I saw from where I was standing (in the third-base coach’s box) that he (Warendorf) tagged him up around the head and he (deRocco) slid underneath it,” Spillane said. “I had some issues with the strike zone all game and there was some build-up there. I went and argued the call and as I was walking back to the dugout, he threw me out.”

Prior to Middletown South’s seventh-inning surge, the Eagles had no answer for Magliaro, Colts Neck’s starter on Monday. The senior right-hander took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and wound up allowing one earned run on one hit and four walks while striking out nine in six-plus innings. He walked Middletown South second baseman Johnny Zega to lead off the seventh and at 105 pitches, he gave way to left-handed closer Chris Murphy.

“I knew I pretty much had to get every batter out in the seventh to stay in the game,” Magliaro said. “Whatever the decision is, when I come out of the game with the lead, I always feel like we’ve got the win. The way our bullpen has been this year, it’s usually automatic, but give Middletown South credit for battling back.”

 

After blowing his first save of the season Monday against Freehold Township, Murphy pitched a perfect seventh with two strikeouts to save Tuesday’s win over Middletown South. Monday night, he walked two batters to load the bases and after a strikeout for the first out of the inning, he balked in the first run of the rally. Murphy settled down to strike out Pereless – the only time Pereless (1-for-2 with three walks and broke up Magliaro’s no-hit bid in the sixth) was retired all night – but walked Timmins to reload the bases and gave up an infield single to third baseman Tom Mariniello.

With Brey coming up as the third of three straight left-handed hitters, Murphy stayed in to face the Eagles shortstop and hit him on the helmet with a curveball on a 3-and-2 pitch to force home the third run of the inning.

Warendorf then came into the game and jumped ahead of Andrew Wisialko, 0-and-2, before uncorking the consecutive wild pitches, the second of which allowed pinch-runner Tom Gannon to race home with the tying run.


Gannon scores on wild pitch to tie game from All Shore Media on Vimeo.

“I am really proud of the way our guys fought back,” Spillane said. “We really couldn’t do much of anything against their first pitcher (Magliaro). He was outstanding, but we continued to battle, we got him out of the game and then we just kept fighting to keep the game going. Colts Neck’s a quality team, so to be able to come up with five runs in the seventh to keep the game going showed a lot of heart.”

Colts Neck took command of the game with five runs in the bottom of the second inning against Middletown South starter Austin Markmann, who entered the game having pitched 17 consecutive shutout innings, including two 1-0 shutouts in the MCT against St. John Vianney in the first round and Middletown North in the quarterfinals.

Colts Neck third baseman Kyle Murrin chased home the first run of the game with an RBI fielder’s choice ground out to second base. Left fielder Guiseppe Varile and shortstop Paul Marinello followed with back-to-back RBI singles with the bases loaded to make it 3-0. Second baseman Sam DeVitis then walked with the bases loaded to force in a run and Kapuscinski capped the scoring in the second with another RBI single.
 

Kapuscinski led the Colts Neck offense Monday by going 3-for-5 with a triple, a run scored and an RBI. Antico also went 2-for-5 with a double and a run scored to go with his defensive play, while Sam DeVitis stole two bases in a 1-for-5 game with one RBI.

With CBA’s 3-2 win over Freehold Township on Monday behind sophomore Luca Dalatri, the Colts are now 7-0 with their ace on the mound and 4-5 in all of their other games. Dalatri will not be available in those games after throwing 96 pitches in seven innings on Monday.

“It’s going to be a fun couple days, but the first thing we have to worry about is Wednesday,” Magliaro said. “We’re not going to look ahead to Thursday because we have a championship right in front of us. Hopefully we can win that and then we can worry about winning A North.”

 

 

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