MARLBORO - If hitting is contagious, the Point Pleasant Boro baseball team quarantined its epidemic to the fourth inning of Friday's Shore Conference Tournament opening-round game against Marlboro and used it to survive and advance.

The 16th-seeded Panthers collected seven runs on eight hits, including five straight with runners in scoring position, during the bottom of the fourth to break the game open and spark a 7-1 win over the No. 17 Mustangs.

"It's so much fun to watch a team like that," Point Boro coach David Drew said. "You're not waiting for one guy to go 4-for-4 with six RBI's. It was just one after the other, after the other, after the other. That's a tribute to these guys and having each other's backs."

Junior Sam Collins pitched four innings of relief to earn the win and his two-run single was the first of the five straight singles in the fourth, which put Point Boro ahead, 3-0. After a single by Christian Aurin re-loaded the bases, Nick Guzzi and Paul Franceschini hit back-to-back RBI singles to make it 5-0 and Sam Young singled home two runs to cap the streak and make it 7-0.

"We have been working on hitting the ball hard on the ground and that helped us today," Collins said. "We put the ball in play with ground balls and line drives and that's why we had that big inning."

Point Boro sophomore Nick Guzzi. (Photo by Matt Manley)

Andrew Laspina opened the scoring with an RBI single to center to score Young, who led off the fourth inning with a bunt single.

Guzzi started the game with three scoreless innings and exited after 46 pitches, which keeps him eligible to throw 104 on Monday in the opening round of the NJSIAA South Jersey Group II opening round at Cinnaminson. The sophomore right-hander struck out the side in order in the first innings and finished the outing with his fourth strikeout before switching spots with Collins.

Collins moved from shortstop to the mound and while he didn't strike out his first three batters faced like Guzzi did, he was sharp over the final four innings to pick up the win. Collins threw 58 pitches, which also makes him eligible to 92 pitches on Monday.

"We have a lot of good athletes so we always feel like we're ready to do whatever the team needs," Collins said. "We have our routines and whatever coach needs, we are ready to go."

Marlboro broke onto the scoreboard on a two-out RBI single by junior second baseman Anthony Brienza, who also made a diving play for a forceout in the second inning. The two middle-infields - Brienza and Justin Levito for Marlboro and Collins-Guzzi and Nick Zbikowski - combined to make 14 plays without an error.

Point Boro will play top-seeded Christian Brothers Academy on Tuesday in the SCT round of 16. The Panthers are now 2-0 against teams from the Shore Conference Class A North - in addition to Marlboro, Point Boro also defeated Freehold Boro during the regular season - and will try to make it three in a row on Tuesday at CBA.

"I think we have had a pretty good year," Drew said. "We've beaten some good teams, lost some tough games and now we have a chance to show what we can do. We're excited about an opportunity to play CBA."

 

Box Score

Point Boro 7, Marlboro 1

1234567RHE
Marlboro (9-10)0000100150
Point Boro (14-7)000700X7100

Pitching

MarlboroIPHRERBBSOPC
Matt Lapoff (L)3.17663274
Joe Iacocello0211008
Josh Schliefman0.21001015
J. Gruber20002139
Point BoroIPHRERBBSOPC
Nick Guzzi32001446
Sam Collins (W, 3-2)43110458

Top Hitters

MarlboroStats
Anthony Brienza2-3, RBI
M. Spinelli1-1, 2B
Point BoroStats
Sam Young2-4, R, 2 RBI
Sam Collins1-4, 2 RBI
Christian Aurin2-3, R
Paul Franceschini1-3, RBI
Andrew Laspina2-4, R, RBI
Nick Guzzi1-4, R, RBI