Baseball – Sharkey, Richey Lead Wall Past Sheehan, Manasquan
WALL TWP. - A day after losing a heartbreaking game against Middletown South that put a dent in its Shore Conference Class B North division title hopes, the Wall baseball team spotted Notre Dame commit Tommy Sheehan and Manasquan a three-run lead Wednesday.
With its chances at a division title slipping away, Wall weathered the storm and rallied against one of the Shore's most dominant pitchers.
Freshman Teddy Sharkey lined an 0-2 offering from Sheehan to left field for a go-ahead two-run single in the bottom of the sixth and the Crimson Knights - ranked No. 3 in the latest Shore Sports Network Top 10 - rallied from a three-run deficit to beat the No. 4 Warriors to pull into a tie for second in the Class B North race. Both Wall and Manasquan are one game behind Monmouth Regional (9-3) for the division lead.
"I was a little nervous, no doubt," Sharkey said. "He (Sheehan) is a hell of a pitcher - D-1, going to Notre Dame. It was tough the first couple of at-bats and then falling behind 0-2, but I felt like I fought and fought and was still in position to do my job. Fortunately, he gave me my pitch, and I squared it up."
Sharkey has played right field, settled into the sixth spot in the lineup and pitched big innings in his first varsity season. He leads the Crimson Knights in batting (.366), on-base percentage (.366), and slugging percentage (.537) and is the only Wall player with a home run this year. He has also struck out 16 in 10 2/3 innings on the mound with a 1.97 ERA and only three walks.
"Teddy's been coming up big for us all year," senior second baseman Shane Richey said. "He doesn't act like a freshman out on the field, even though we make fun of him a little bit for it."
"It's like living a dream," Sharkey said of his season. "Even when I was 10 years-old, I wanted to play varsity as a freshman. It's a lot of hard work and my teammates have been encouraging me. It was great from the minute I got called up. I knew there was a bond. There was a brotherhood."
On Tuesday, it was Wall that gave up an early lead in an 8-7 loss to Middletown South, coughing up a 4-0 edge and failing to score with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the seventh with the winning run on second base.
"Every game we've lost this year, we've come back the next day and played well," Wall coach Todd Schmitt said. "It was tough waking up this morning and thinking, 'Man, we lost a tough one yesterday and now we have to face Sheehan.' But that stuff doesn't phase the kids. They don't think about it as much as I do. I probably lost more sleep last night than they did."
Richey was 1-for-1 with a pair of walks and a two-out, two-run triple in the bottom of the third inning that pulled Wall within 3-2 and began to turn the tide in the Crimson Knights' favor.
"I think you see him (Sheehan) the first time and go, 'Okay, that's fast,'" Richey said. "By the second and third (Pitch), you can start to see the ball. By the second and third at-bat, you can start to put an at-bat together. My second at-bat, he threw me a fastball and I felt like I completely saw it, so the next pitch, I put a good swing on it and it went."
Richey also handled all four of his chances at second base to lead an error-free game by the Crimson Knights behind left-hander Tanner Powers. Powers scattered 10 hits while pitching a complete game and allowed three hits and no runs over the final four frames.
Powers retired the first two batters in the seventh before Sheehan singled to right-centerfield for his third hit of the game. With cleanup hitter James Harmstead - who went 2-for-3 with a double Wednesday and homered against Monmouth on Monday - courtesy runner Nick Jaime took off for second with a 1-1 count on the batter. Powers, however, threw over to first and John Perrino fired to shortstop Dylan Richey, who applied the tag to end the game.
It took Powers 31 pitches to get through the first inning and 18 to get through the third, but he threw no more than 12 in any other frame.
"We were hoping for three or four innings out of Tanner today and he gutted it out," Schmitt said. "What a performance. He got more confidence as the game went on. The first inning was a little rough and he was a little frustrated. In the seventh inning, I thought about making a change and I just looked at him and thought we were going to be alright. He looked very composed."
Tommy Sheehan gave up two solid hits by Sharkey and Richey, but the other two were a tapper to second base that Grant Shulman beat out in the third inning and a pop-up by John Volpe that twisted in the wind and landed behind first base in shallow right field. Both of those hits turned into runs on Richey's triple, which came on a 1-2 pitch.
In the sixth inning, Sheehan walked Richey and committed throwing errors on consecutive sacrifice attempts to load the bases with none out. Just one inning earlier, he mowed down three consecutive batters via the strikeout.
Manasquan scored twice in the first inning and again in the third. Tommy Antonucci tripled to the right-field corner and scored on a pop-up to shallow right field by Ethan Thompson for the first run and Adam Schreck plated the second on a ground ball to shortstop. Tommy Sheehan singled and James Harmstead doubled to set up the second run.
Ricky Flynn singled home a run in the third for the Warriors, who were denied a fourth run when Volpe threw out a runner at home plate on a single by Adam Galvan.
Wall chipped away at Sheehan and ran his pitch count up to 64 through four innings and it climbed to 97 by the end of his six-inning outing. The approach was on the other end of the spectrum from Wall's approach against Red Bank Catholic on Sunday and Monday, which involved swinging early in the count. The commitment to working Sheehan's pitch count and the willingness to operate with two strikes showed the versatility of a young Wall team.
"Against a kid like Sheehan, you have to see pitches because if you go up there swinging and he throws the whole game, he's going to get outs. If you see pitches, get his pitch count up, and maybe he starts wearing down a little bit, that's when you get it done."
In order to capitalize on Wednesday's win and win a division title, Wall will likely have to win both of its remaining divisional games, which are against Ocean on Friday and Long Branch next week - the two bottom teams in the standings. To win the outright title over Monmouth and Manasquan, the Crimson Knights will have to win both games while Monmouth loses to Middletown South and Ocean and Manasquan loses to either or both of Red Bank Catholic and Middletown South.
"We never take any game for granted," Sharkey said. "We know we have to play our game every day. We challenge each other and that's what makes us better."
No. 3 Wall 4, No. 4 Manasquan 3
|Manasquan (9-7, 8-4)||2||0||1||0||0||0||0||3||10||2|
|Wall (12-5, 8-4)||0||0||2||0||0||2||x||4||4||0|
|Tommy Sheehan (L, 3-2)||6||4||4||2||3||10||97|
|Tanner Powers (W, 1-0)||7||10||3||3||0||2||104|
|James Harmstead||2-3, 2B, R|
|Ricky Flynn||1-2, BB, RBI|
|Adam Schreck||1-3, RBI|
|Tommy Antonucci||1-4, 3B, R|
|Shane Richey||1-1, 3B, 2 RBI|
|Teddy Sharkey||1-3, 2 RBI|
|John Volpe||1-3, R|