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Mark Capell had his worst outing in an otherwise dazzling season as a pitcher when his Marlboro baseball team beat Manalapan in a back-and-forth game on May 24 and on Saturday, he had to stare down the Braves lineup again with a trip to the NJSIAA Central Group IV semifinals on the line.

Manalapan again threatened to break Capell with one big inning, but this time, Marlboro's senior ace and leader was unbreakable.

Capell pitched a complete game, recording the final out with the winning run in the batter's box to propel Marlboro - the No. 9 seed in the Central Group IV section - past top-seeded Manalapan and into the sectional semifinal on Tuesday.

After winning on the road in each of the first two rounds, Marlboro will return home Tuesday to face the team that eliminated the Mustangs from the 2019 Central Jersey Group IV Tournament - also in the semifinal round. No. 12 Old Bridge, which lost to Manalapan in the 2019 sectional final, will make the trip to take on Marlboro on Tuesday after beating No. 13 Princeton, 8-1, on Saturday.

PHOTO GALLERY: Marlboro at Manalapan by Paula Lopez

Marlboro senior Mark Capell. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

In a start at Manalapan on May 24, Capell lasted just one inning and allowed four earned runs, but Marlboro battled its way to a 9-8 win over the Braves. In that game, Marlboro scored four runs in the first inning, only to have Capell give up four in the bottom of the inning before departing.

After two scoreless innings to start his outing on Tuesday, Marlboro scored four runs in the top of the third and it appeared, for a time, Capell might endure a recurring nightmare. Manalapan scored three times in the bottom of the third, but Capell halted the Braves there and kept them off the board until the seventh inning.

With its championship defense on the line, Manalapan loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the seventh and Capell remained in the game to try to finish off the win. He induced a pair of shallow fly outs, but then walked Matteis to force in a run and bring the winning run to the plate in the form of senior Tom Guidice. The Braves senior third baseman and No. 3 hitter lifted a long fly ball to left-center field, but Mustangs centerfielder Julian Buchmann tracked it down for the final out of the game.

This time around, only one of the runs Capell allowed were earned. He scattered six hits, walked three and struck out seven in a 107-pitch outing.

Marlboro's offense staked Capell to a four-run lead with a breakout third inning against Manalapan senior ace Joe Mazza, making his first start since beating Ranney in a Shore Conference Tournament game on May 16 because of injury. Shortstop Joe Lomangino opened the scoring with an RBI triple to score Nick Wright in the top of the third and Capell followed with an RBI double to make it 2-0.

Frank Talarico then picked up an RBI with a groundball that was played into an error before Antonio Vitale capped the four-run third for Marlboro that gave the Mustangs an early 4-0 cushion.

Manalapan answered with three in the bottom of the inning, with centerfielder Anthony Matrone and catcher Anthony Matteis hitting back-to-back RBI singles and a third run scoring on an error.

Vitale provided an insurance run in the fifth with and RBI double and Talarico made it 6-3 in the top of the seventh with an RBI double. Marlboro pushed across its seventh run thanks to the fifth error of the game committed by Manalapan.

After starting the season 2-5, Marlboro is 12-2 since, including seven in a row after Saturday's win.

Box Score

Marlboro 7, Manalapan 4

1234567RHE
Marlboro (14-7)0040102793
Manalapan (16-7)0030001465

Pitching

MarlboroIPHRERBBSOPC
Mark Capell (W, 4-2)764138107
ManalapanIPHRERBBSOPC
Joe Mazza (L, 4-1)35432353
Nick DiMaggio1.23100227
Tyler Kane21223350
Sebastian Czajkowski0.1000118

Top Hitters

MarlboroGame Stats
Frank Talarico2-4, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI
Antonio Vitale2-4, 2B, 2 RBI
Nick Wright2-4, R
Mark Capell1-4, 3B, RBI
Joe Lomangino1-5, 3B, R, RBI
ManalapanGame Stats
Anthony Matrone3-4, R, RBI
Anthony Matteis1-3, 2 RBI
Ethan Rodriguez1-2, 2B, R