Story by Ella Brockway
SSN Correspondent

MIDDLETOWN -- It was a combination of strong, consistent pitching, a six-run sixth inning, and some blue-chip defense that led the Middletown North baseball team to a 7-1 win over St. John Vianney in the second round of the Shore Conference Tournament Saturday afternoon.

Sophomore pitcher Tyler Ras threw a complete game for the Lions, striking out three and allowing only three hits, two of which came in the top of the seventh and final inning. Ras also went 1-for-3 from the plate, and hit the sacrifice fly that brought in two runs and started the Lions’ scoring surge in the bottom of the sixth.

“I feel like we did a good job (today),” said Ras. “They were a good lineup, and they put the ball hard in play, but I was just lucky that I had my great defense behind me, and that’s all I can ask for.”

 

Sophomore Tyler Ras tossed a three-hitter Saturday. (Photo by Ella Brockway)

 

Ras allowed one of his three hits in on the fifth pitch of the game - a single from SJV third baseman Chris Cerniglia - but then went on to throw five straight hitless innings. Middletown North’s first run, scored by first baseman Kyle Capo, came off of a single in the bottom of the second by catcher Walter Schopf.

The two teams, which last met in the first round of the Monmouth County Tournament last spring, traded outs and strikeouts until the sixth inning. Ras and St. John Vianney pitcher Ryan DeMille both finished with three strikeouts each.

DeMille allowed 11 hits in a complete game performance for Lancers, seven of which came during the sixth inning.

The bottom of the sixth inning began with two singles from leadoff hitter Cole Fluta and left fielder Brendan Doherty. Fluta would score to make it 2-0 on the sacrifice fly to right field by Tyler Ras, but an overthrow on the relay throw from right field to SJV catcher Ciaran Devenney and then to third baseman Chris Cerniglia brought home Doherty, giving North a 3-0 advantage with one out in the inning.

“I knew that I just needed to put the ball in the air somewhere,” said Ras. “Once I put it in the air, I knew Cole [Fluta] was going to score, and then Brendan Doherty was able to score, and that’s what kicked the inning off.”

The Lions proceeded to hit four straight singles down the right field line and score two runs off of singles from Garrett French and Schopf again. A double to dead center by right fielder Mike Mercier increased North’s lead to 6-0, and the final run came on a squeeze bunt by Phil Pecherski.

“Everyone did their job (in the sixth), and we had a great approach at the plate,” head coach Justin Nathanson said. “They just got the job done when they were asked to do it.”

Mike Mercier strokes an RBI double as part of Middletown North's six-run sixth inning. (Photo by Ella Brockway)

A home run from Ciaran Devenney with one out in the seventh inning gave the Lancers their only run of the day. Ras recovered from allowing the home run and a single in the top of the seventh to get the final out of the game on a grounder hit to the mound by DeMille.

“I think we got great pitching and great defense (today),” Nathanson said. “We just executed when called upon.”

The win pushed ninth-seeded Middletown North into the quarterfinals of the Shore Conference Tournament, where they will now face the number one seed, Christian Brothers Academy, on May 25. This season has marked North’s first appearance in the Shore Conference Tournament in the past five years.

“We’re going to approach the (CBA) game like we are any other game,” said Nathanson whose team has defeated the Colts once in three meetings. “We have to play fundamental baseball, go out and do our job, and if we play our game, we’ll be just fine.”

Box Score

(9) Middletown North 7, (25) St. John Vianney 1

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
SJV (8-11) 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 3 1
Midd North (14-9) 0 1 0 0 0 6 x 7 11 0

Pitching

SJV IP H R ER BB SO
Ryan DeMille (L, 2-2)  6 11 7 7 0 3
Midd North IP H R ER BB SO
Tyler Ras (W, 4-5) 7 3 1 1 1 3

Top Hitters

SJV Game Stats
Ciaran Devenney 1-3, HR
Chris Cerniglia 1-3
Sebi Bellone 1-3
Midd North Game Stats
Mike Mercier 2-3, 2B, RBI
Kyle Capo 2-3, 2 R, SB
Garrett French 2-3, R, RBI
Walter Schopf 2-3, RBI
Cole Fluta 1-3, R, SB
Brendan Doherty 1-3, R, SB
Seth Ziegler 1-3, R