Baseball – Tommy Sheehan’s Controversial Walk-off Home Run Ends Classic Between Manasquan and Middletown North
Both dugouts looked toward the home plate, each one imploring the umpire to signal opposing calls.
The occupants of Middletown North dugout and the Lions baseball players on the field were certain the line drive that Manasquan senior Tommy Sheehan ripped beyond the fence down the right-field line in the 12th inning Friday was a foul ball.
Sheehan and his Manasquan teammates signaled home run, believing ball hooked around the foul pole.
After a pause, the home plate umpire raised his hand and signaled home run, bringing an end to, arguably, the best game in the Shore Conference this season in controversial fashion. Sheehan’s game-winning two-run home run down the right-field line in the bottom of the 12th inning gave Manasquan a 7-5 win over Middletown North, ending the Lions’ six-game winning streak and giving the Warriors a game-and-a-half lead over the next two closest teams in the Shore Conference Class B North standings.
Junior Tommy Antonucci tied the game at five in the 12th with an inside-the-park home run before Sheehan's two-out blast. As Sheehan rounded the bases, Middletown North's bench made the case that the ball should have been ruled foul and Lions head coach Justin Nathanson was among those who thought the game was heading to the 13th inning.
“It was foul by about five feet,” Nathanson said. “It was a rope and it looked like it might be trouble, but from where we were, it hooked at the end. Everybody was looking at the home plate umpire because the field ump was behind second base and nobody was making a call. We all (in the Middletown North dugout) assumed it was foul and the Manasquan dugout was pointing fair, trying to get the call. After a couple seconds, he threw his hand up and that was it.”
Manasquan hit four home runs Friday and all four either tied the game or put the Warriors in front. Adam Schreck belted his fifth home run of the year in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game at 3-3 and junior Ethan Thompson hit a game-tying solo shot with one out in the bottom of the 11th to pull Manasquan even at 4.
“It was an unbelievable game,” Nathanson said. “We went up three different times and Manasquan just kept coming back. Both teams fought like crazy to win and it just happened to end on a bad break for us.”
Sheehan finished 2-for-6, as did winning pitcher James Harmstead.
Connor Muly pitched eight innings and allowed three earned runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out nine on 106 pitches. Harmsetad finished off the game with four innings and earned the win. Harmstead allowed two runs on four hits and two walks while striking out five on 64 pitches.
Tyler Ras finished six innings and took the no-decision despite allowing only two hits. One of those was the game-tying home run by Schreck. Ras struck out nine, walked three and threw 96 pitches.
Ras also had a huge day at the plate by going 5-for-6 with two doubles and two RBI on a two-run home run. His home run cleared the left-field fence and gave the Lions a 2-0 lead in the third.
Jason Timmons also hit an inside-the-park home run, blasting a long fly ball to center field and circling the bases to extend Middletown North lead to 3-1 in the top of the sixth.
Mike Mercier was 2-for-6 with a go-ahead RBI single in the top of the 12th to give the Lions a 5-4 lead. Middletown North took a 4-3 lead in the 11th with a safety squeeze.
Cody Sharkey took the loss with 5 2/3 innings of work for Middletown North.
Middletown North had climbed back into the B North race with its six-game winning streak and still finds itself with a chance to win at least a share of a division championship with four games to go and five for contenders Wall and Monmouth – both of which are 6-3 in the division.
Manasquan, meanwhile, is in position to win an outright division title for a second straight year now that the Warriors are a game-and-a-half ahead of both Wall and Monmouth and two games up on Middletown North and Red Bank Catholic. Manasquan has divisional games remaining against Monmouth, Wall, Red Bank Catholic and Middletown South, which is 4-5 in B North and mathematically alive in the heated division-title chase.
Manasquan 7, Middletown North 5 (12 Innings)\
|MN (8-5, 6-4)||0||0||2||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||5||12||2|
|Squan (9-4, 8-2)||0||0||0||1||0||2||0||0||0||0||1||3||7||7||1|
|Cody Sharkey (L, 0-2)||5.2||5||4||4||4||0||73|
|James Harmstead (W, 2-0)||4||4||2||2||2||5||64|
|Midd. North||Game Stats|
|Tyler Ras||5-6, 2 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI|
|Jason Timmons||2-5, HR, R, RBI|
|Mike Mercier||2-6, RBI|
|Tommy Sheehan||2-6, GW 2-R HR, 2 R|
|Adam Schreck||1-4, HR, R, 2 RBI|
|Tommy Antonucci||1-6, HR, R, RBI|
|Ethan Thompson||1-4, HR, R, RBI|
|James Harmstead||2-6, R|