COLTS NECK - The last time Nick Hohenstein took the ball with a chance to save a game at Colts Neck High School, he let the game get away. It was one of Hohenstein's very few forgettable moments on the mound during his All-Shore junior campaign in 2017.

After sparking his Christian Brothers Academy team back in front with his bat, Hohenstein took the ball and shut down Colts Neck over the final three innings to sew up a 4-3 win Friday for the Colts - the No. 2 team in the Shore Sports Network Preseason Top 10.

"The last time I pitched here, I didn't get the job done and I remembered that," said Hohenstein, who started CBA's season-opener last Saturday and earned the win. "I've come in in relief a few times and I think I've gotten better at understanding the mentality that comes with it. It's different. When I'm starting I have more time to get going. In a game like today, there are limited outs and not a lot of room for error."

Hohenstein doubled home two runs to ignite a three-run third inning that pulled CBA even with the No. 10 Cougars at 3-3 and after senior teammate Joe Dudek singled home the go-ahead run with two out in the fifth, Hohenstein took over for junior left-hander Joe Escandon on the mound.

CBA senior Nick Hohenstein after his two-run double in the third. (Photo by Matt Manley)
CBA senior Nick Hohenstein after his two-run double in the third. (Photo by Matt Manley)

Colts Neck put a runner on in both the fifth and seventh innings and Hohenstein struck out the side in order on 15 pitches in the bottom of the sixth. Cougars senior second baseman Nick Straub worked a one-out walk in the seventh as the potential tying run, but catcher Tom Rodgers threw him out at second base when Straub tried to steal his way into scoring position.

CBA tied the game with three runs in the third, beginning with a two-run double to the left-center gap by Hohenstein that plated senior second baseman Jack Harnisch and junior shortstop Tommy DiTullio. After advancing to third base on the throw home, Hohenstein scored the tying run on a sacrifice fly by senior third baseman Andrea Dalatri.

"I saw they were trying to throw me a lot of breaking balls and in order to hit that pitch, I have to think left field," Hohenstein said. "I got a fastball, let it get deep and just got the barrel to it."

DiTullio started the winning rally in the fifth with a one-hopped smash to third base that Dan Cowles could not glove, followed by a steal of second base. Cougars reliever Adrian Jimenez got the next two outs on a leaping grab in center field by senior Anthony Galason on a line drive off the bat of Hohenstein, followed by a pop-out.

Dudek then stepped in a lined an 0-1 pitch from Jimenez into right field to score DiTullio with the go-ahead run.

CBA squandered a scoring chance of Colts Neck starter Hunter Boag, who struck out the side in the second after finding himself in a second-and-third, none-out jam.

"I think we have the potential to be a dangerous hitting team," CBA coach Marty Kenney said. "I thought we should have been better last year. We had a lot of trouble getting the big hit and that held us back from having a really good season. We're still trying to figure out how to navigate those big situations. The potential is there but we're going to need to start executing."

Escandon had no such luck getting out of the first inning, when Colts Neck struck for three runs to take an early lead. Sophomore catcher Rob Mannino reached on an infield single, moved to third on a hustle double to shallow left by Galason and scored with Galason on a two-run double to right-center by senior right fielder Joe Kohm.

Boag aided his cause by dropping a single into shallow right field to chase home Kohm. After the first inning, Escandon and Hohenstein did not allow another Colts Neck player to reach second base.

"Playing in (Shore Conference Class) A North, you are going to face good teams and you're going to be down," Hohenstein said. "Every team has good players and we're always going to get every team's best. We have to be able to keep playing and know the game's not over."

Friday marked CBA's first game in N.J. after beginning its season Saturday in Florida and getting rained out during the early part of the week. The delayed start to the division season is not ill-timed considering the Colts are still waiting for their pitching staff to get whole. Senior left-hander Blaise Venancio is not available to pitch yet for undisclosed reasons, according to Kenney, who expects to have the All-Shore southpaw back in the fold.

CBA will battle unbeaten Manalapan on Monday in a key early-season Class A North game and Kenney expects to pitch a similar combination of pitchers against the No. 5 Braves. By NJSIAA pitch count regulations, Hohenstein will be eligible to throw up to 105 pitches and Escandon up to 98 on Monday after they threw 45 and 52, respectively, on Friday.

"I'm not sure who is going to start yet, but it will probably be some combination of (Escandon and Hohenstein)," Kenney said. "We have some pitchers who are going to help us this year, but there is not a lot of experience. We want to find some situations to get them on the mound and see what they can do, but for the moment, we only have a few guys who have pitched a lot of innings. Later on in the year, it should be a good group but it's going to take some time."


Box Score

CBA 4, Colts Neck 3

CBA (2-0, 1-0)0030100460
Colts Neck (1-2, 0-2)3000000362


Joe Escandon (W, 1-0)45331352
Nick Hohenstein (S, 1)31001445
Hunter Boag43313574
Adrian Jimenez (L, 0-1)33111159

Top Hitters

Nick Hohenstein1-2, 2B, 2 BB, R, 2 RBI
John Dudek1-4, RBI
Andrea Dalatri1-3, RBI
Tommy DiTullio1-4, 2 R
Anthony Celestre1-2, BB, SB
Colts NeckStats
Joe Kohm1-3, 2B, 2 RBI
Anthony Galason2-3, 2B, R
Hunter Boag1-3, RBI
Rob Mannino2-3, R



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