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COLTS NECK – Colts Neck’s historic postseason has come to an end.

Ocean City junior Tommy Finnegan tossed a complete game and drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the fourth inning as the Red Raiders defeated the Cougars, 4-2, in Monday’s NJSIAA Group 3 semifinal game.

The 6-foot-7 right-handed pitcher, who is committed to Vanderbilt, scattered seven hits, struck out three and walked two on the hill. At the plate, he delivered a two-out RBI single that plated Ben Hoag and snapped a 2-2 tie in the fourth inning. Ocean advances to the Group 3 final for the first time since 2016 and will face Pascack Valley on Saturday.

Colts Neck, which won the program’s first sectional title in dramatic fashion on Friday, fell behind 2-0 in the first inning but was able to claw back and eventually tie the game in the third inning. The Cougars left seven runners on base, however, including leaving the bases loaded in the first and runners on second and third in the bottom of the sixth inning when Ocean City was holding a two-run lead.

“Today, we just didn’t get that hit when we needed it,” said Colts Neck head coach Mike Yorke. “We let the kid settle in a little bit and that’s what happens.”

Colts Neck sophomore Tyler Spencer got the start on the mound and pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing eight hits, four runs (three earned) with one strikeout and two walks. Ocean City jumped on him early when Gannon Brady led off the game with a double to left field and Hoag reached on a fielder’s choice. Joe Repetti then hit an RBI double just inside the third-base bag before Matt Nunan walked to load the bases. Spencer was able to get Finnegan to ground into a 5-4-3 double play for the first two outs of the inning but a run also scored on the play. He then got James Mancini to fly out to right field to end the inning.

Colts Neck got one run back in the bottom of the first inning when No. 2 hitter Christian Rice reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second, went to third on a single by Brad Salamone and scored on a sacrifice fly by Collin Katzer. Joe Cilea was then hit by a pitch to load the bases but Finnegan induced a groundout to end the inning.

The Cougars tied the game at two in the bottom of the third inning when Rice doubled to lead off the frame and Dave Cohen plated him with an RBI single to right field. Cohen then stole second to put a runner in scoring position with one out, but Finnegan was able to get a strikeout and a groundout to strand Cohen at second and keep the game knotted at two.

Spencer worked into and out of trouble in the third and fourth innings, including stranding the bases loaded in the top of the fourth, but Ocean City got to him again with two outs in the fifth inning. Hoag singled to lead off and Repetti laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance him to second. Nunan flew out to center for the second out but Finnegan then came to the plate and came through with an RBI single to left field to give the Red Raiders a 3-2 lead.

Kratzer came in to relieve Spencer after Finnegan and was able to coax a groundball by Mancini, but an error on the play allowed Mancini to reach safely and Finnegan to come around and score from second for a 4-2 lead.

Krazter was strong in both the sixth and seventh innings to keep it a two-run game and give the Cougars a chance to mount a comeback. They were in position to score in the bottom of the sixth when Blaze Masterson singled with two outs and went to third on a single by Ben Goldman before Goldman stole second to put runners on second and third. Finnegan came through with another clutch sequence and was able to get pinch hitter Matt Jacobson to ground out to second.

He then retired Colts Neck in order in the bottom of the seventh to send the Red Raiders to the Group 3 title game and knock the Cougars out of the state tournament.

“I told them to walk out with their head held high,” Yorke said. “It goes down as the best run we’ve ever had in the state tournament in Colts Neck history. We’ll have two banners on the wall and we still play in the country tournament (on Wednesday).”

“Early on, we struggled and we were okay, 12-6, and then we won 10 in a row. I think once the kids started to buy into the fact that goods things happen when you play together, goods things start to happen. They’re warriors.”

 

Click here for a photo gallery by Richard O'Donnell

Colts Neck vs. Ocean City Baseball

 

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