Baseball – Three Shore Teams Fall on Sectional Final Friday
Three Shore Conference teams carried the mantle for the conference Friday and all three fell, meaning Sunday's Shore Conference Tournament championship game between Christian Brothers Academy and Middletown South will be the last official game of the 2016 Shore baseball season.
NJSIAA Sectional Finals
Central Jersey Group III
(6) Nottingham 8, (4) Ocean 5
The Northstars jumped in front with a four-run third inning and held on to beat the Spartans and capture the program's first ever state sectional championship.
Bryce Fremgen scored the first run of the game in the second when he singled and scored on two ensuing errors and later hit an RBI double in the third to stretch Nottingham's lead to 5-1. Joe Garry ripped a two-run double in the inning to make it 4-1 after a squeeze bunt by Tommy McParland broke a 1-1 tie.
Ocean bounced back to two runs in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI double by Kenny Pickett, followed by an RBI single by Tyler Rossback, which cut the Northstars lead to 5-3.
Nottingham, however, answered in the top of the sixth, when Mike Suosso drove in two with a double and Sean McGeehan drove him in with an RBI single that made it 8-3.
The Spartans had one more rally in them, which they pulled together in the bottom of the sixth. Rossback roped a two-run double with one out to cut the lead to 8-5, but he was stranded at second to end the threat.
Ocean brought the tying run to the plate in the seventh against Ahmed Tahoun but the senior worked out of the jam to end the game and give the Northstars their first title.
The five runs Ocean scored off starter Ronnie Voacolo were the first runs allowed by Nottingham during the state tournament. Voacolo threw a two-hit shutout against Moorestown in the sectional quarterfinals and sophomore Nick Houghton pitched two shutouts, including a one-hitter against Wall on Tuesday.
Central Jersey Group I
(1) South River 5, (2) Keyport 0
Senior right-hander Tyler Higgins took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and finished off a one-hit shutout with 13 strikeouts to pitch the Rams past the Red Raiders for their first ever sectional championship.
Higgins walked Keyport left fielder Evan Smutz with one out in the top of the fifth to end his perfect game bid, but South River catcher Matt Leviton quickly erased the baserunner by throwing Smutz out at second base on an attempted steal.
Keyport leadoff hitter and second baseman Jackson Aumack led the top of the seventh off with a check-swing ground ball that rolled far enough past Higgins to allow Aumack to beat the play at first for an infield hit. Higgins followed with a strikeout, a fielder's choice and capped his gem with his 13th strikeout. Keyport only reached second base against him when Shane Chandler took second on defensive indifference with two out.
The Rams scored two unearned runs off Keyport starter Kenny Harrigan in the bottom of the first due to a catcher's interference call on the first batter of the game. Harrigan walked the next batter and after retiring two straight, Rams second baseman Dalton Dougherty ripped an RBI single to right to open the scoring. South River stole a second run with a double-steal, with Khaliyl Everett scoring on a high return throw to the plate.
South River shortstop and leadoff hitter Brandon Szerszen drove in the final three runs for the home team. He capped a two-out rally in the third with an RBI single to score Michael DeSantis, then ripped a two-run single to left in the bottom of the third with one out.
Harrigan was charged with all five runs, but only one was earned. The senior pitched 5 1/3 innings, gave up four hits, walked five and struck out three before giving way to junior Christian Smith.
South Jersey Non-Public A
(4) Camden Catholic 2, (1) Red Bank Catholic 0
Jay Crusemire pitched a six-hit shutout with seven strikeouts and the Irish knocked off the top-seeded Caseys to advance to the sectional final Tuesday against No. 6 St. Augustine at East Brunswick Tech High School.
Camden Catholic scored both of its runs in the top of the fourth, sparked by a one-out double by Joe Polumbo that planted runners on second and third with none out. Chris Holmes followed with an RBI ground out and Colin Larsen tacked on a sacrifice fly for the game's lone runs.