MANCHESTER TWP. – The Shore Conference Class B South has not historically been a division that toughens teams up for the NJSIAA Tournament, but the Manchester baseball team kept its cool Monday against Manasquan and freshman ace Tom Sheehan in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II first round because it had been through tight battles against tough pitchers.

The Hawks – seeded No. 7 in the CJ II bracket – overcame a strikeout-happy Sheehan and a seventh-inning comeback by the No. 10 Warriors to win, 2-1, on a walk-off single by sophomore Mark Wernoch with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning. Manchester will travel to No. 2 Robbinsville on Wednesday for the sectional quarterfinals.

Manchester senior Devin Tomei just missed his second shutout of the season, but still pitched seven strong innings to help the Hawks beat Manasquan in extra innings. (Photo by Matt Manley)

“Coming into the year, I said my team would compete in the B South division and that’s what they did,” Manchester coach John Musolf said. “We have a young team and B South was pretty tough this year, and we hung in there. We’ve played plenty of games like this, and we’ve been on the winning end as well as the losing end. Today, we fought hard, we kept competing and we were fortunate to get a win and advance to the next round.”

Sophomore designated hitter Jon Meaney led off the bottom of the eighth with a double deep into the right-field corner and Manasquan elected to intentionally walk starting pitcher Devin Tomei. Dan Piskowski – who replaced Tomei on the mound to start the eighth inning – laid down a sacrifice bunt on a full count to set Wernoch up with runners on second and third base with one out.

Manasquan reliever Tommy Toole got ahead of Wernoch 1-and-2, but the sophomore rode a fastball out over the plate into the right-center field gap for the game-winning hit.

Marc Wernoch walk-off 1B in the 8th from All Shore Media on Vimeo.

“I was a little nervous in that situation, only being a sophomore, but I knew no matter what, I had to find a way to come through for my team,” Wernoch said. “My best strength as a hitter is hitting the ball to right field and with two strikes, I was just thinking about looking away and reacting.”

Wernoch and Meaney were right in the middle of the eighth inning rally, and they were also two of the only Manchester hitters who had any measure of success against Sheehan. In five-plus innings, the freshman southpaw – featuring almost exclusively a two-seam and four-seam fastball, as well as a cutter – racked up nine strikeouts while allowing five hits and two walks.

“He (Sheehan) was good at moving his fastball around, so I was turn trying to look for it away and go to right field with it,” Meaney said. “He also had a good two-seamer, and the only way to hit it was to go the other way, and I think we started to make that adjustment as the game went on.”

After walking senior third baseman Shaun Wernoch with two out in the bottom of the first inning to load the bases, Sheehan went on to strike out the next six Manchester hitters – all swinging on fastballs.

Tom Sheehan strikeout ends the 1st from All Shore Media on Vimeo.

Meaney singled in his first two at-bats against Sheehan, including an infield single up the middle to end the strikeout streak with two out in the bottom of the third. Wernoch singled with one out in the fourth inning after fouling off a pair of two-strike pitches, moved to second on a ground out by shortstop Connor Lynch and scored on an RBI double to right field by sophomore catcher Darrius Garcia.

“He threw his fastball by me in my first at-bat and when I got up again, I was just trying to think about going to right field and really trying to stay on top of the ball,” Garcia said. “I wasn’t sure when I hit it if it would get over the right fielder’s head, but I’m glad it did.”

Tomei took a three-hit shutout into the top of the seventh inning, but Manasquan scratched the tying run across to extend the game. No. 9 hitter Matt Paturzo lined a single to right field for his second hit of the game (2-for-3) with one out and took second on a wild pitch with two outs and sophomore third baseman Jack Sheehan at the plate.

Sheehan smacked a one-hopper back through the box off of Tomei’s neck. The ball bounced toward right field and settled between Wernoch at first, Tomei and second baseman Steven Rodriguez. Tomei and Rodriguez both went for the ball and collided, with Tomei picking up the ball and throwing the ball to first, too late to get Sheehan.

“It hit me in the neck and I guess it just got my adrenaline going,” Tomei said. “I went after it pretty hard when I probably should have just let the second baseman take it.”

The throw to first allowed Paturzo to round third and head home, and his slide under the tag by Garcia gave Manasquan the tying run. Sheehan and Patruzo each had two hits, accounting for four of Manasquan’s five in the game.

Jack Sheehan 1B ties the game in the 7th from All Shore Media on Vimeo.

“The runner slid under the tag before I got the ball, but I was also blocking the plate, which made it a close play, at least I thought so,” Garcia said. “He beat the throw though, so I think it was a good call by the umpire.”

Tomei finished the seventh inning before being lifted having throwing 128 pitches. He took a tough no-decision while allowing one earned run on five hits while walking six and striking out seven.

“I wanted to keep going and I felt like I could have,” Tomei said. “Most of my fastball velocity is coming from my legs at that point in the game and my legs still felt strong. I know I was up over 100 pitches and they got a run off me, so coach definitely made the right call.”

While Sheehan stranded the bases loaded in the first inning, Tomei faced his toughest jam in the third inning. Manasquan loaded the bases with none out on a walk by Marc Galvan, a single by Paturzo and a bunt single by Toole. Tomei then induced a ground ball back to the mound by Jack Sheehan and turned it into a 1-2-3 double play to force out a run at home and get Sheehan at first.

Tomei pitched an eight-inning shutout in a 1-0 game once before this season, which came in Manchester’s second game of the spring against Barnegat.

“Devin’s our guy in a big game, and we’re going to go with him,” Musolf said. “I knew he was up around 100 pitches going into that seventh inning and to be honest, I stopped counting pitches. I knew he was going to be the guy to try and finish it for us and if he couldn’t, then we could take him out. But in a pressure situation, that’s the guy I want on the mound.”

Devin Tomei K ends the 7th from All Shore Media on Vimeo.

That win over Barnegat in April was a game started by sophomore standout Jason Groome, and Tomei later won a game against Central started by senior right-hander and University of Alabama recruit Andrew DiPiazza. That gives Tomei and the Hawks wins over two of the top pitchers in Ocean County – if not the two best, a significant feather in their collective cap as they prepare to travel to Robbinsville on Thursday.

“When you’re used to seeing pitchers like Groome and DiPiazza who are throwing in the 90-mile-an-hour range, it makes facing a guy throwing in the mid-to-high-eighties a little easier to handle,” Meaney said. “We’ve seen some really good pitching this year, and we’ve proved we can win against good pitching, which gives us a lot of confidence going forward.”

 

Box Score

Manchester 2, Manasquan 1 (8 Innings)

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

R

H

E

Manasquan (9-12)

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

5

1

Manchester (11-10)

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

1

2

7

0

 

Manasquan

AB

R

H

RBI

BB

SO

Tommy Toole, 2B-P

4

0

1

0

0

1

Jack Sheehan, 3B

4

0

2

1

0

0

Max Hawkins, CF

1

0

0

0

3

0

Ty Hawkins, DH

4

0

0

0

0

3

-- Tyler Bradley, C

0

0

0

0

0

0

Tanner Cowley, RF

3

0

0

0

0

1

Tom Sheehan, P-LF

4

0

0

0

0

2

-- Tucker Caccavale, P

0

0

0

0

0

0

Matt Edwards, SS

3

0

0

0

1

0

Marc Galvan, 1B

1

0

0

0

2

1

Matt Paturzo, LF-2B

3

1

2

0

0

0

Totals

27

1

5

1

6

8

GIDP: J. Sheehan
SB: Cowley, J. Sheehan
Picked Off: J. Sheehan

Manchester

AB

R

H

RBI

BB

SO

Steve Rodriguez, 2B

3

0

0

0

0

2

-- Garrett Barry, PH

1

0

0

0

0

1

Matt Buss, CF

4

0

0

0

0

1

Jon Meaney, DH

4

1

3

0

0

1

-- Frank White, LF

0

0

0

0

0

0

Devin Tomei, P-3B

3

0

0

0

1

0

Shaun Wernoch, 3B

1

0

0

0

1

1

-- Ryan Bowker, 3B

1

0

1

0

0

0

-- Dan Pisowski, P

0

0

0

0

0

0

Mark Wernoch, 1B

3

1

2

1

0

1

Connor Lynch, SS

2

0

0

0

0

1

-- Dan Mills, PH

1

0

0

0

0

0

Darrius Garcia, C

2

0

1

1

0

1

-- Dylan Megill, CR

0

0

0

0

0

0

-- Mitch Stage, PH

1

0

0

0

0

0

Ryan Vanderham, RF

2

0

0

0

1

1

Totals

28

2

7

2

4

10

2B: Garcia, Meaney
SAC: M. Wernoch, Pisowski

 

Manasquan

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

Tom Sheehan

5.0

5

1

1

2

9

0

Tucker Caccavale

1.0

0

0

0

0

1

0

Tommy Toole, L

0.1

2

1

1

1

0

0

 

Manchester

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

Devin Tomei

7.0

5

1

1

6

7

0

Dan Pisowski, W

1.0

0

0

0

0

1

0

Sheehan pitched to one batter in the sixth.
Pitches-Strikes: T. Sheehan 91-59, Caccavale 17-12, Toole 11-7, Tomei 128-76, Pisowski 9-7
Groundouts-Flyouts: T. Sheehan 6-0, Caccavale 0-2, Toole 0-1, Tomei 7-4, Pisowski 2-0