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For a minute or so, Middletown North sophomore Ryan Frontera thought he had a leg on his older brother and Seton Hall commit, Danny when he belted his second home run of the season to open the scoring in Wednesday's NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III first round game at Ocean.

Before Ryan Frontera had time to finish his high fives in the dugout, older brother Danny responded in the game of sibling one-upsmanship.

The Brothers Frontera blasted back-to-back home runs to open the scoring in the third inning and jumpstart the Lions - the No. 8 seed in the section - in a high-scoring, 11-8, first-round win over the ninth-seeded Spartans.

"It felt good to get one because I have been hot for a while," Ryan Frontera said. "It's always good to give my brother some early runs because that usually means we're going to win."

PHOTO GALLERY: Middletown North at Ocean by Paula Lopez

Middletown North sophomore Ryan Frontera. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Ryan Frontera launched his two-run shot over the left-centerfield fence on the first pitch. After congratulating his younger brothers, Danny Frontera crushed a no-doubt solo bomb on a 2-1 pitch during the following at-bat to make it 3-0, Middletown North.

"I was sitting fastball after Ryan hit his," Danny Frontera said. "I was thinking I had to capitalize on that. It felt good off the bat, I caught it pretty good."

"I thought I had him for a little," Ryan Frontera said. "I was thinking maybe I could end up with more home runs than him this season and then he hits two today."

Ryan Frontera's homer gave him a 2-1 lead over his older brother in home runs for the season and not only was his lead short-lived, but Danny Frontera retook the inter-family home run lead in the fourth inning. On an 0-2 pitch from Ocean senior starting Nick Callano, Frontera stayed back on a slider the stayed up and ripped the ball over the left-field fence to give himself 7-0 cushion on the mound.

Danny Frontera breezed through the first three innings, during which he struck out six and allowed three base-runners - a hit batter, a single and a walk.

In the fourth inning, Ocean started to pay Frontera back for the damage he did at the plate. The Spartans hung two home runs on Danny Frontera, with senior left-handed swinger Dillon Downs smashing an opposite-field two-run shot to left-center to make it 7-2 in the bottom of the fourth. Sophomore George Krenkel then cut the Middletown North lead to 7-4 with another two-run blast to dead center in the bottom of the fifth.

"Me and Lombardi were telling everybody the whole time that this is a good hitting team," Frontera said of Ocean. "We can't just sit back, we have to keep pouring on the runs."

Frontera was content to give up the longballs in exchange for pounding the strike zone and keeping his pitch count manageable. He wound up allowing four runs on six hits with a pair of walks, a hit batter and 10 strikeouts while running his final count up to 100 pitches over six innings.

PHOTO GALLERY: Middletown North at Ocean by Paula Lopez

Middletown North senior Danny Frontera. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

"With a seven-run, I wanted to attack with fastballs," Danny Frontera said. "I missed some spots and a couple guys got me. I always try to pitch to contact and let the defense work. I wanted to go out for the seventh but I was already up around a hundred."

Colin Dowlen, Andrew Lombardi, Danny Frontera and Tyler Sharkey all added RBI singles for insurance in the sixth and seventh innings, allowing Frontera to depart with an 11-4 lead while during the game over to Ryan Frontera to finish.

Ryan Frontera also came after the Ocean hitters in the seventh and the Spartans mounted a a serious challenge despite trailing by seven runs. Senior catcher Nick Vaughn smacked a two-run double and Krenkel and Downs added RBI singles during a four-run bottom of the seventh that made things interesting leading up to the final out, which Ryan Frontera recorded with the potential tying run in the on-deck circle.

Middletown North's 18-hit onslaught Wednesday was an awakening for a team that had only once before scored more than five runs in a game against a team with a .500 record or better. Getting hot at the plate would provide a big boost for the Lions, who are unsure what they will get out of Dowlen on the mound. The right-hander pitched a 15-strikeout no-hitter against Middletown South in his last outing on May 18 but has not been able to pitch since due to injury.

After the Dowlen no-hitter, Middletown North lost five games in a row - streak the Lions finally snapped on Wednesday. Middletown North's next challenge in the state tournament will be at top-seeded Colts Neck on Saturday, with Cougars junior left-hander Anthony Gubitosi available for a full slate of pitches.

"Hopefully we are getting hot now," Danny Frontera said. "If our pitchers can keep it pretty low-scoring, I think we're going to score some runs doing what we did today."

 

Box Score

(9) Middletown North 11, (8) Ocean 8

1234567RHE
Midd North (11-8)004302211180
Ocean (15-8)00022048102

Pitching

Middletown NorthIPHRERBBSOPC
Danny Frontera (W)6644210100
Ryan Frontera14441027

Top Hitters

Middletown NorthGame Stats
Danny Frontera4-5, 2 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI
Ryan Frontera3-5, 2B, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI
Colin Dowlen2-5, 2B, RBI
Tyler Sharkey3-5, 2B, R, RBI
Andrew Lombardi2-4, 2 RBI
Tony Sansone3-5
Matt Adamson1-3, 3 R, SB
OceanGame Stats
Dillon Downs3-4, HR, 3 RBI
George Krenkel2-4, HR, 3 RBI
Nick Vaughn2-4, 2B, 2 RBI
Jack Zabarsky1-4, 2B
Riley Morrow1-3, R
Nick Callano0-1, 3 BB, 2 R