Baseball – Marinaccio and Mullins Deliver TR North OCT Title With Win Over TR South
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TOMS RIVER - It took 16 innings, but the potent Toms River North lineup finally figured out how to score on Toms River South senior right-hander Trevor Wagner.
Senior Pat Marinaccio delivered a two-out, two-run single on a 2-2 count to break a scoreless tie in the top of the eighth and fourth-seeded Toms River North beat No. 3 Toms River South, 2-0, to win its second Ocean County Tournament championship in four years Thursday night at Toms River East High School.
"We had a chance to win a championship on Monday and we came up short," Toms River North coach Andy Pagano said, referencing a loss to Brick Memorial that cost the Mariners a share of the Shore Conference Class A South title. "You could tell the guys were disappointed and they weren't going to let the opportunity slip away again."
The Mariners loaded the bases with one out in the top of the eighth against Wagner, who entered the game having not allowed a hit in nine scoreless innings during two regular season meetings between the teams, including a seven-inning no-hitter. Austin Feigin led off the inning by beating out a ground ball to second base that deflected off the mound and Wagner then hit senior third baseman and Shore Conference home run leader Joey Rose.
After a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Jared Bellissimo, Toms River South opted to walk senior right fielder Jeff Ciervo intentionally. Wagner responded by striking out Craig Larsen on three pitches and working his way to a 2-2 count against Marinaccio with four straight fastballs. On the fifth pitch of the at bat, Wagner went to the breaking ball and Marinaccio stayed on it long enough to punch it through the middle, chasing home both Feigin and Rose.
"I knew (the breaking ball) was coming, so I sat on it and I just poked it through into center," Marinaccio said. "In the previous at bat, he got me out with the curveball so I thought he'd go back to it.
"I knew coming up, I knew I had to get the run in. We practice that situation a lot in the cages and in practice and the hard work paid off there."
Before leading off the eighth with his infield single, Feigin made the second of two crucial outfield plays by the Mariners. With the winning run on second base in the form of pinch-runner Jared Kwicinski and one out, Indians first baseman Connor Feeney hit a sinking, humpback line drive toward left-center. Feigin charged in, made a sliding catch and threw to second to double off Conover and send the game into extra innings.
In the bottom of the sixth, Toms River South third baseman Ben Montenegro lined a single to right field with a runner on second and one out. Courtesy runner Sam Conover attempted to score on the play, but Toms River North right fielder Alex Klalo fired the ball home in time for catcher Ian Mindas to tag out Conover for the second out of the inning after Conover slide around the plate, but could not touch it.
Klalo entered the game in the top of the inning as a pinch-runner for Ciervo and remained in the game and the ball promptly found him in a critical situation.
Sophomore right-hander Brendan Mullins earned his third win of the tournament with seven scoreless innings and took home the Most Valuable Player award of the tournament. Mullins limited the Indians to four hits and issued just one walk to go with one strikeout.
"I let the offense to their thing and I do mine," Mullins said. "I have to control the game and control my tempo. I expect a lot of myself and my team picked me up big time.
"I'm a sophomore - I'm a youngin'. To know coach has trust in me to get the ball in a game like this is a great feeling."
"He's a competitor," Pagano said of Mullins. "I told him to his face that if we were naming captains, I would have named him one because he's that kind of kid. And we've never had a sophomore for a captain. He just has heart and that's what you need in a game like this."
Fellow sophomore Anthony Sasso took over in the bottom of the eighth and pitched a one-two-three inning to close out the game. He struck out two batters, including Wagner on a 3-2 fastball for the final out.
Wagner pitched another seven scoreless innings after pitching a two-hitter in a 1-0 semifinal win over Brick on Saturday. Over eight innings, he allowed two earned runs on six hits and two walks - one intentional - with seven strikeouts.
"You have to tip your cap to Wagner," Pagano said. "The kid's a competitor. He's a kid that anybody would want starting for them."
Toms River North 2, Toms River South 0 (8 Innings)
|TR North (16-6)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||2||6||1|
|TR South (18-7)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||4||1|
|Brendan Mullins (W, 5-1)||7||4||0||0||1||1|
|Anthony Sasso (S)||1||0||0||0||0||2|
|Trevor Wagner (L, 5-3)||8||6||2||2||3||7|
|TR North||Game Stats|
|Pat Marinaccio||1-3, 2 RBI|
|Austin Feigin||1-3, R|
|TR South||Game Stats|