Baseball – Nine-Run Sixth Lifts CBA Past Manasquan, Closer to History
RED BANK - One way or another, the current winning streak that the Christian Brothers Academy baseball team is on is going to come to an end. After Wednesday’s Shore Conference Tournament semifinal against Manasquan, the possibility that the streak ends with a historic championship victory is a much more distinct possibility.
CBA scored nine runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to erase a one-run deficit and pull away with a 13-5 win at Count Basie Park over the 15th-seeded Warriors for its 10th straight win, moving them within four wins of becoming just the second Shore Conference team to sweep the five potential championships for a team in the conference.
The Colts (22-5) will play Red Bank Catholic in Monday night’s Shore Conference Tournament final at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood, seeking not only their second straight SCT championship, but potentially the third leg in the quest for five championships as well. CBA will also host Immaculata Friday in the South Jersey Non-Public A semifinals, and a win would leave the Colts one win shy of a sectional championship and two shy of an overall Non-Public A title.
The 2004 Wall team is the only Shore Conference team to ever win a division, county, conference, state sectional and overall group championship in the same season.
“It’s pretty humbling to be this far into the season and still have a chance at winning everything,” junior catcher Brandon Martorano said. “It was definitely a goal of ours to win all five championships, but it’s such a long season and there are so many challenges along the way that you kind of forget about it. We really haven’t talked about it, but now that we’re one win away from another championship, it’s definitely getting closer.”
“Four wins is a lot to get, especially at this time of year,” CBA coach Marty Kenney said. “Our guys really haven’t talked about winning every championship because I think they realize that it can all end in one game. At this point, I think they are thinking about trying to win the next game more than they are thinking about winning the next four. If we’re fortunate enough to get a fourth game, then maybe it becomes part of the discussion.”
Martorano blasted his ninth home run of the season Wednesday and sixth in the team's last 10 games when he launched a solo shot over the right-center field fence in the bottom of the third inning. Martorano also drew an intentional walk in the fifth and beat out an infield single before scoring in the sixth. He finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
“Brandon has taken his game to another level,” Kenney said. “He has been a good hitter at this level for the last couple of years, and I think we expected that eventually he’d become this kind of player once he added some strength and fine-tuned his approach. He has a lot more pop than people realize, and it just seems like he knows what he’s looking to hit and going after it.”
Freshman right-hander Nick Hohenstein threw two innings of relief to earn the win and also went 2-for-2 at the plate, including an RBI single during the nine-run sixth. Hohenstein surrendered the lead when Manasquan scored two runs in the top of the sixth to take a 5-4 advantage, although both runs in the Warriors' sixth were unearned.
Center fielder Cid Porter went 2-for-2 with two walks, two runs scored and three RBI out of the leadoff spot. He started the nine-run inning by getting hit by a pitch and later drew a walk to force in the ninth CBA run by drawing bases-loaded walk. Porter opened the scoring with a two-run single to center field in the bottom of the second.
“In this lineup, I know it’s my job to be a little more patient than the guys after me,” Porter said. “They do a lot of damage in the middle of the order, and it’s my job to make sure I’m on base when they come up, and I try to get on any way I can. The bottom of the order has been swinging the bats well lately too, so I’ve found myself with some chances to drive in runs as well, so I’ve had a chance to be a little more aggressive.”
Second baseman Andrew Buccellato singled twice in the sixth, including a two-RBI single that scored three runs after an error in the outfield, making the score 12-5.
CBA took the lead for good with one out in the sixth, when Luca Dalatri hit a chopper to third base with the bases loaded and Jack Sheehan's throw to the plate sailed high, allowing the tying and go-ahead runs to score.
Manasquan (14-11) took a 5-4 lead in the top of the sixth on a sacrifice fly by center fielder Max Hawkins that tied the game and a go-ahead, two-out, RBI single to right field by starting pitcher Tommy Sheehan. Jack Sheehan and Kevin Fay both reached on throwing errors to start the inning and moved up a base on a sacrifice bunt by second baseman Matt Paturzo.
The Warriors erased an early 3-0 deficit with three runs in the top of the third against junior starter Kenny Campbell, who did not allow a hit and faced one batter over the minimum through three. Ty Hawkins delivered a bases-loaded RBI single to put Manasquan on the board and Jack Sheehan followed with a two-run single to left, tying the game at 3.
CBA took a 4-3 lead in the fifth when senior right fielder Will Morgan walked and scored on a throwing error on the return throw of a potential inning-ending double play.
Tommy Sheehan pitched into the fifth inning for Manasquan before giving way to Marc Galvan. Jack Sheehan recorded the final two outs of the sixth.
CBA left fielder Shane Turk was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI for CBA, while Morgan was 2-for-4 with a double, a run scored and an RBI. Starting pitcher Kenny Campbell went 1-for-2 with a double and a run scored before giving way to Hohenstein to start the fifth inning.
Sophomore Mason O'Mara pitched a scoreless seventh inning to finish the game off for CBA.
“We’re going to need those guys on Monday if we do play on Tuesday,” said Kenney, who confirmed that senior Mike Garvey will start on Friday against Immaculata and should CBA win, Dalatri will take his 19-0 record over the past two years to the mound in Tuesday’s South Jersey Non-Public A final.
“They have both pitched a decent amount of innings for us and even though those haven’t been the pressure innings that today was, they have been important innings. They were in there for a reason today and it’s because they have done the job for us when we’ve needed them.”