MANALAPAN - It has been five games spanning three seasons since the Manalapan baseball team has defeated Christian Brothers Academy but in the meantime, it seems as though the Braves have figured out how to beat everybody else.

The newly-minted No. 1 team in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 rode a 14-game winning streak into Tuesday's home showdown with No. 3 CBA and were set to put that on the line against CBA's recent success against the Braves. Something had to give.

Something did give: the daylight.

Manalapan tied the game on a pop-fly that dropped between the pitcher's mound and first base with two out in the bottom of the seventh and the teams combined for four shutout innings of extra baseball before the game was suspended due to darkness with the score tied, 3-3.

The game will pick up from the same point it stopped - in the top of the 12th inning with CBA batting - on Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Manalapan. The two teams are scheduled to meet in the second of their two division games on Thursday at CBA.

Marty Kenney has coached CBA for more than four decades and said he has never been a part of a suspended game, which only recently replaced the game ending in a tie as the procedure for tie games that have to be suspended.

CBA was in control for most of the game, jumping on top with three runs in the top of the third inning. Senior Tommy DiTullio smacked an RBI single to center and senior Connor Baksh ripped a two-run single inside the third-base bag.

Manalapan then loaded the bases with none out in the bottom of the fourth against CBA junior starter Braedin Hunt but came away with just one run. Hunt got a shallow fly out to center field and a pop up to DiTullio at shortstop but could walked No. 9 hitter Kyle Sciallo to force in Manalapan's first run.

CBA senior left-hander Evan Mahns relieved Hunt to start the fifth inning and wound up throwing six innings of quality relief for the Colts: six innings, two runs on three hits and two walks with nine strikeouts while throwing 99 pitches. In the seventh, however, his pinpoint command and otherwise reliable defense faltered just enough to give Manalapan a chance to keep their season-opening streak alive.

Senior second baseman Jake Pellecchia started the Manalapan rally by fighting off a bloop single down the right-field line. Senior center fielder Mike Kuver followed with a four-pitch walk and Mahns bounced back by striking out shortstop Nick DiPietrantonio for the second out.

Senior and starting pitcher Ben Levine worked a six-pitch walk to load the bases with two out to set the scene for sophomore Tom Guidice. The Manalapan first baseman hit a towering pop-up on the infield that Mahns initially called. Hunt - now playing first base - drifted toward the spot to offer support but the two could not get on the same page and the ball dropped. Pellecchia scored from third, Kuver raced around from second and courtesy-runner Dylan Hode motored to third while Guidice took second.

Mahns bounced back to strike out senior Matt Panzica to end the inning and force the game into extras.

In extra innings, Mahns retired all nine batters he faced before passing the ball off to senior Anthony Pillari, who struck out the side in order in the 11th to end Tuesday's action.

CBA got a single from junior Ben Settino in the ninth and junior Mason Wolf in the 10th before mounting a legitimate threat in the 11th. Junior Pat Reilly singled through the left side with one out and stole second base. Settino jumped ahead in the count against Manalapan senior reliever Jake Melman and was intentionally walked once the count got to 3-0.

Melman then hit pinch-hitter Declan Hoverter to load the bases, prompting Manalapan coach Brian Boyce to replace Melman with right-hander Rico Spinelli. The senior struck out senior Anthony Celestre on four pitches to end the threat.

Manalapan's bullpen was spotless in relief of Levine, who allowed three earned runs on six hits and two walks while striking out four and throwing 92 pitches. Junior left-hander Chris Nicol followed with two more innings of scoreless relief without a baserunner, extending his streak to 12 2/3 innings without a run allowed or a walk - all of which have come in relief.

Melman followed with 3 2/3 scoreless frames with three hits and one walk allowed while striking out three.

Hunt, meanwhile, gave up one run on one hit and five walks while striking out five in four innings.

None of the pitchers used and removed from the game will be eligible to pitch when the game is resumed, which could complicate matters if the game is resumed after both teams use other pitchers to the point of ineligibility prior to the restart. CBA could conceivably put Hunt back on the mound if the game is resumed on Saturday or later because he threw 76 pitches and remained in the game at first base.

Levine, on the other hand, was replaced, re-entered and replaced again and is no longer in the game - nor are Nicol and Melman for Manalapan and Mahns for CBA.

 

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