MIDDLETOWN – Middletown South senior right-hander Zac deRocco took the mound Friday not only looking to change his own fortunes, but also to potentially save the season of a team that entered 2015 with high expectations.

Thanks to a mechanical adjustment and a complete repertoire of pitches, deRocco delivered for his team by tossing a two-hit shutout to lift the Eagles – No. 10 in the Shore Sports Network Preseason Top 10 – to a 5-0 win over rival and previously unbeaten Middletown North.

“I definitely felt like we needed this win,” deRocco said. “We couldn’t afford to go 0-5; 0-4 is already not a good start. It was good to get this win and hopefully we can turn this into a run.”

Middletown South senior Zac deRocco took a no-hitter into the sixth and finished off a two-hit shutout to pitch the Eagles past Middletown North on Friday. (Photo by Matt Manley)

DeRocco struck out six, walked two and took a no-hitter into the bottom of the sixth before allowing the first of Middletown North's two hits on a one-out single through the middle by junior third baseman Kyle Capo. DeRocco left a breaking ball over the plate that Capo lined into center field for a sharp, clean single.

“I realized after the fourth inning that something was happening,” deRocco said. “That pitch (in the sixth inning), I wanted to do over again. I was able to mix my pitches and throw my breaking ball and my changeup for strikes and that one I just left right over the middle.”

“I think he had everything going today,” Middletown South coach Ryan Spillane said. “He threw well in relief on Saturday for us, and it kind of carried over to today. It was the biggest game of the year for us to this point, obviously, and being a senior it was nice for him to come out and throw the way he did.”

Prior to the sixth inning, Middletown North’s only real threat against deRocco came in the bottom of the second, when deRocco hit catcher Walter Schopf to lead off the inning and freshman center fielder Tyler Ras reached on an error with one out to put runners on first and second. Catcher Zach Schild picked off the runner at second base, which allowed Ras to move to second during the rundown, and senior Anthony Pianoforte followed with a walk to put runners on first and second again before deRocco ended the threat by induced a tapper in front of the plate.

“It feels good to build that confidence over the course of the game and also to get some runs on the board early really helped,” deRocco said. “I know I have my defense behind me and they are going to make the plays.”

Middletown South entered Friday’s game 0-4 and deRocco took two of those losses on the mound. The senior right-hander lost an 8-5 decision against Colts Neck on opening day and gave up the game-winning single to Marlboro’s Phil Saglietto in the bottom of the seventh against the Mustangs on Wednesday.

“I really needed this one,” deRocco said. “The first game I pitched wasn’t very good, and the last game I gave up a hit against Marlboro. As a team, I think we were anxious and we had a lot of energy. We always have a lot of energy against North, so this is a good game for us.”

According to both deRocco and Spillane, the right-hander was falling off the mound during his first two appearances and worked Thursday on staying on a straight line to the plate with his delivery.

“Coach and I worked on finishing over the top more and not falling off the side – staying straight to home plate,” deRocco said.

“After his first outing, he was falling hard to the first base side and spinning out,” Spillane said. “He wasn’t balanced throughout, and we just worked on a couple things, got him straightened out and got his release point where it needed to be. He was good today. He was really good.”

Third baseman Ben Porpora drove in two runs, one on a sacrifice fly in the third inning and another on a long RBI double in the fifth that capped the scoring. Freddy Yahn upped the Middletown South to 3-0 with an RBI single in the second inning.

Middletown South started the game with three consecutive singles and scored two in the first inning thanks to two throwing errors by the Lions. Nolan Pereless singled and was caught stealing second by Schopf, but the Eagles responded with singles by Dave Mangarelli and Johnny Zega. Mangarelli scored from second on a two-base throwing error on a wild pick-off throw and Zega came home when Schopf's throw went into center field when no one caught his throw on a stolen base attempt.

Junior second baseman Austin Markmann finished 2-for-2 with a run scored and Zega was 2-for-4 with two runs scored in the win.

“These guys are resilient,” Spillane said. “We’ve never been in this situation as a program and yesterday at practice, we were up and staying positive because we knew we were better than 0-4 coming into this game. We lost the last three games by a total of four runs because we just didn’t do the little things. Today, we did most of the little things right.”

 

Box Score

Middletown South 5, Middletown North 0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

R

H

E

Middletown South (1-4, 1-3)

2

1

1

0

1

0

0

5

9

2

Middletown North (3-1, 2-1)

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

3

 

Middletown South

AB

R

H

RBI

BB

SO

Nolan Pereless, CF

4

0

1

0

0

0

Dave Mangarelli, RF

4

1

2

0

0

0

Johnny Zega, SS

4

2

2

0

0

0

Ian Scheuer, 1B

3

0

0

0

0

1

--Jeremy Joyce, 1B

0

0

0

0

0

0

Austin Markmann, 2B-1B

2

1

2

0

1

0

Ben Porpora, 3B

3

0

1

2

0

0

Zach Schild, C

3

0

0

0

1

1

--Tom Frandsen, CR

0

1

0

0

0

0

Freddy Yahn, DH

2

0

1

1

1

1

Tom Gannon, LF

3

0

0

0

0

2

Totals

28

5

9

3

3

5

2B: Porpora, Markmann
SF: Porpora
SB: Markmann
CS: Pereless

Middletown North

AB

R

H

RBI

BB

SO

Anthony Vetrano, DH

3

0

0

0

0

1

Cole Fluta, 2B

3

0

0

0

0

0

Kyle Capo, 3B

2

0

1

0

1

1

Walter Schopf, C

2

0

0

0

0

0

Seth Ziegler, 1B

2

0

0

0

0

0

Tyler Ras, CF

3

0

0

0

0

2

Anthony Pianoforte, RF

2

0

1

0

1

1

Chuck Estelle, LF

2

0

0

0

0

0

--TJ Vivian, PH

1

0

0

0

0

0

Ed Sena, SS

2

0

0

0

0

1

Totals

23

0

2

0

2

6

SAC: Ziegler
GIDP: Vivian
SB: Ras
CS: Schopf

Middletown South

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

Zac deRocco (W, 1-2)

7

2

0

0

2

6

0

 

Middletown North

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

Phil Pecherski (L, 1-1)

4

7

5

2

2

3

0

Hunter Rinn

3

2

0

0

1

2

0

 

-Pecherski pitched to one batter in the fourth

Balk: Pecherski
HBP: Markmann (by Pecherski), Scheuer (by Pecherski), Schopf (by deRocco)
Pitches-Strikes: deRocco 96-53, Pecherski 76-52, Rinn 33-20
Groundouts-Flyouts: deRocco 10-2, Pecherski 4-1, Rinn 2-2