WALL TWP. - St. Rose junior Will Gannon's first swing of Saturday's Monmouth County Tournament round-of-16 game against Marlboro was more than just a leadoff double to deep left field: it was a message.

With his team facing its first deficit of the season and Marlboro left fielder Mark Ventre playing shallow, Gannon let the Mustangs it would take a lot more than one run to beat the Purple Roses and a lot more depth in the outfield to contain the St. Rose sluggers.

In a nutshell, maybe it's time to stop underestimating the Purple Roses.

Gannon took the first big swing of St. Rose's four-run first inning and the last big swing of a seven-run fifth that carried the No. 4 seed in the tournament past the 13th-seeded Mustangs for a 11-1 win on Saturday. St. Rose will host No. 5 Freehold Boro on Sunday.

PHOTO GALLERY: Marlboro at St. Rose by Paula Lopez

"Putting up four right away made a statement," Gannon said. "It silenced them for a little bit and got some energy in our dugout."

With a double and a run scored in the first inning and a two-run triple that put St. Rose ahead, 10-1, in the fifth, Gannon bookended the 14-hit attack with two extra-base hits during a 2-for-4 game at the plate.

Gannon was one of four St. Rose players to collect two hits, with senior Joe Volpe, junior Riley Maypother and junior John Crowley also picking up a pair of hits. Volpe was 2-for-4 with an RBI triple in the first, Maypother was 2-for-3 with an RBI single in the first and a solo home run to lead off the fifth, and Crowley was 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI.

"We always talk about playing with a chip," said St. Rose first-year coach Rich Lanko, who was an assistant on the last St. Rose team to win an NJSIAA Non-Public B championship in 2009. "I always played that way and I want the kids to play that way and always have that attitude. We had that when I was here before."

Lanko sent senior ace Brandon Mology to the mound Saturday and the right-hander gave up his first run of the year in the top of the first inning. A leadoff walk by Ventre followed by a passed ball and a sacrifice put a runner at third and even though St. Rose center fielder Brendan Hueth robbed Mustangs shortstop Will Trochiano with a diving catch in left-center field, Ventre scored on the play to open the scoring.

Mology, however, stranded a runner at second following a double by catcher Gene Napolitano and St. Rose quickly gave him four runs in the bottom of the frame. Gannon doubled and moved to third on an errant throw into the infield and scored on Volpe's RBI triple to the gap in right-center field. Maypother followed with a line drive into center to plate Volpe and moved to third on a double by first baseman Brian DiPasquale. The first-inning scoring ended with a throwing error that allowed DiPasquale and Maypother to score with two out.

The four-run first chased Marlboro freshman starter David Vignapiano before he could get the third out of the inning and reliever Zach DeRosa held St. Rose down in the second, third and fourth innings before running into trouble in the fifth.

On the first pitch of the bottom of the fifth, Maypother scalded a breaking ball down the left-field line - a screaming line drive that cleared the fence just above the 330-foot sign to the right of the foul pole. The solo blast was the third of the season for Maypother.

"He's always working," Lanko said of Maypother. "He works out during the season, he goes home and run, he takes care of himself. All of that stuff is important and on top of that, he's coachable. We've worked a lot with him on staying up the middle and using the opposite field, which he's done a lot better this year."

"Ever since I was 12, I was taught to swing like that - palm up, long finish," Maypother said. "It helps elevate the ball and not roll over it. That's why I have that long follow through."

Catcher Brody Maypother followed the home run with a double that ended DeRosa's day, but the pitching change did not quell the rally. After Brian DiPasquale walked, Sam Sestito hit an RBI double down the right-field line. The double was the first of three straight RBI hits by St. Rose's No. 7, 8 and 9 hitters, with Crowley and left fielder Tom Blaes ripping RBI singles to stretch the Purple Roses lead to 8-1.

Gannon stepped back in after another pitching change and roped a deep drive that one-hopped the fence in the right-center gap to chase home two more with a triple and still nobody out in the inning. An intentional walk to Hueth preceded a ground out by Volpe and another intentional walk to Riley Maypother. Brody Maypother then worked a five-pitch walk to force in the 11th St. Rose run and end the game via the 10-run rule.

Before St. Rose put the game away with its big fifth inning, Mology escaped bases-loaded, one-out jams in the third and fifth innings. The third ended when he deflected a comebacker right to Volpe at shortstop to start the 1-6-4-3 double play to shut down the threat.

In the fifth, Napolitano - the Mustangs' cleanup hitter who already doubled in the game - stepped in as the potential go-ahead run with the bases loaded and one out. Mology, however, jumped ahead with two strikes and froze Napolitano with a changeup at the top of the zone on the inside corner for strike three and out No. 2. He then induced an inning-ending ground out on his 93rd and final pitch of the game while keeping the score 4-1.

"I just wanted to pound him inside," Mology said of the matchup with Napolitano. "I was able to get the first pitch over, he fouled off the next one and I threw him a changeup to get him. A good hitter like that, he just needed to make contact and it was probably going to be a run so I just the best I could to avoid that."

Mology's outing was his third win in three starts this year and all three have come against teams from outside Class B Central. He shut out Manasquan over five innings and pitched a seven-inning shutout against Rumson-Fair Haven on April 22. After limiting Marlboro to 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position on Saturday, Mology has allowed one earned run on 10 hits and six walks in 17 innings with 21 strikeouts.

"He's just a competitor," Lanko said. "He wants to compete, he wants the big game. He wants the ball. Even when he hits, he plays the field. He's just the guy you want out there for you."

 

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