Baseball – RBC No-Hits Jackson Memorial to Advance to SCT Semis
RED BANK - Vincent Bianchi was not particularly pleased with how he pitched in his Red Bank Catholic team's Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinal against Jackson Memorial on Wednesday.
His command was inconsistent. His curveball was not snapping the way he wanted it to. He got deep into counts and his pitch count was at 59 through only two innings.
He also did not give up a hit and passed the baton to junior John Nimeth, who finished off a no-hitter against one of the state's most dangerous lineups in a 3-0 Caseys win.
Bianchi lasted 5 2/3 innings before running out of pitches to throw. After 112 pitches by Bianchi without a hit, Nimeth finished off the sixth inning to advance the game to the seventh.
"They are definitely a very good lineup," said Bianchi, who's team lost to Jackson Memorial exactly one week earlier, 6-1, with Nimeth also pitching in relief in that one as well. "I have made mistakes earlier on in the season and learned some lessons that I have brought with me into my last few starts. I just kept battling and tried to focus on the pitches that were working for me today."
Jackson Memorial drew seven walks in the game and brought the go-ahead run to the plate in the top of the seventh against Nimeth. Junior Jake Wendell walked on four pitches to lead it off, followed by a fielder's choice and a strikeout. Freshman Zach Crotchfelt then took a four-pitch walk with two out to bring the tying run to the plate in junior leadoff hitter Christian Pellone.
Pellone fouled off two two-strike pitches and hit a ground ball that third baseman Rob Gonzalez fielded cleanly. Gonzalez opted to try to get the final out at third base, but with the runners moving on the 3-2 pitch, he lost the race to the bag to Wendell and the inning continued with a fielder's choice that resulted in no out recorded.
Junior Ryan Lasko came up as the tying run with a team-high seven home runs on the season but Nimeth induced a game-ending fly out that center fielder David Glancy tracked down in right-center.
Bianchi walked five, hit a batter and struck out six in his 5 2/3 innings of work, allowed only three balls to leave the infield and never gave up a ball in play that was close to being a hit. All that against a Jackson Memorial lineup that entered Wednesday averaging 8.5 runs per game.
"I was struggling with my command early on," Bianchi said. "They knew it, I knew it, everybody knew it. I just kept battling and worked with what I had.
"My curveball wasn't really working well early on. I just told myself to keep spotting the fastball, work in the changeup and later on, I'll be able to spot it."
The St. John's University commit also helped his cause at the plate by going 2-for-3 with a two-out RBI single to extend his cushion to 3-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning. Earlier in the inning, sophomore Shane Panzini doubled RBC's lead with a solo home run that cleared the left-field fence.
While the two insurance runs did not come until after Bianchi's last full inning of work, he pitched with a lead for the entirety of his outing. Glancy jump-started the Caseys with a solo home run to left-center field on the second batter of the game.
Glancy missed the first 10 games of the season due to a broken hamate bone in his left hand and his home run Wednesday was his third of the season. He hit seven during an First-Team All-Shore campaign as a junior and his Caseys teammates hope his hot streak this year is starting at the right time.
"Having his bat back in the lineup is great for us," Bianchi said. "That's a power bat who can get us the lead with one swing in the first inning and change the game any time he swings. He makes are lineup a lot more dangerous and he is looking like he is starting to get going."
On the other side, a promising season for Jackson Memorial (20-5) ended stunningly early for a team that showcased a deep pitching staff and overpowering offense throughout the season. That offense, however, disappeared in a select few games this season and, coupled with some ill-timed defensive miscues in earlier games (the Jaguars committed just one error on Wednesday), led to early exits in their three tournament appearances.
Jackson Memorial was nearly no-hit by Toms River East junior Reece Miller in the Ocean County Tournament quarterfinal and ultimately fell to the 9-13 Raiders, 1-0.
On Monday, the second-seeded Jaguars began their defense of the 2018 South Jersey Group IV championship and were bounced in the first round by No. 15 Cherokee in stunning fashion. Jackson Memorial took a 2-0 lead to the seventh and surrendered two runs, with the tying run scoring on an error with two out. The Chiefs then posted three runs in the eighth, shut the door in the bottom of the inning and ended dreams of a repeat.
RBC landed the knockout punch to Jackson Memorial's season on Wednesday by completing the no-hitter.
The Jaguars will return a slew of junior and sophomore talent as seniors and juniors next season, but will have to replace two top hitters in Alex Iadisernia and Ahmir Cournier - the latter of whom missed the final four games of the season with a wrist injury. Iadisernia was one of the Shore's top hitters this season, finishing with a .527 batting average, 11 doubles, a triple, five home runs and 31 RBI in 72 at-bats.
After spending his first three seasons at Toms River East, Cournier transferred to Jackson Memorial, started at shortstop and hit .439 with nine doubles, one triple, three home runs and 19 RBI in 66 at-bats.
The Jaguars will also graduate Wednesday's starting pitcher, Joe Princiotta, who finished the season 6-2 with a 1.26 ERA in his final season, as well as senior outfielder Troy Bathmann.
Red Bank Catholic's next Shore Conference Tournament game will be on Wednesday, May 29 at Count Basie Park against ninth-seeded Manasquan. The two teams met twice during the Class A Central regular season and again in the Monmouth County Tournament quarterfinals. Red Bank Catholic won the two division games on the way to a 14-0 campaign as A Central champions, but Manasquan paid the Caseys back with a 1-0 win in the MCT behind a one-hitter by senior right-hander Spencer Bauer.
In three games, Red Bank Catholic outscored Manasquan 3-1, with Panzini and Bianchi pitching shutouts in the first two games before Bauer returned the favor. The pitching matchup for Wednesday's game will depend on how both RBC and Manasquan fair in the NJSIAA Tournament.
Red Bank Catholic's next game will be Friday against Notre Dame at Count Basie Park in the South Jersey Non-Public A quarterfinals. Notre Dame upset RBC, 4-2, last year behind a five-hitter by current senior Robbie Bueker, who figures to start again on Friday.
The Caseys will counter with Panzini, whose lone loss of the year was the 1-0 MCT loss to Manasquan. The hard-throwing sophomore right-hander is 6-1 with a 0.70 ERA with 61 strikeouts in 40 innings this season.
"We know coming in that Buekers is a really good pitcher," Bianchi said. "We just have to have a gameplan and understand what we need to do to be successful against what he is trying to do to us. I think it helps knowing him a little better from last year and the good thing is we have Shane going for us. He has done the job all year and he'll be ready on Friday."
Red Bank Catholic 3, Jackson Memorial 0
|Jackson Mem (20-5)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1|
|Joe Princiotta (L, 6-2)||4.2||5||3||2||0||4||69|
|Red Bank Catholic||IP||H||R||ER||BB||SO||PC|
|Vincent Bianchi (W, 4-2)||5.2||0||0||0||5||6||112|
|John Nimeth (SV, 1)||1.1||0||0||0||2||1||31|
|Jake Wendell||0-1, 2 BB|
|Zach Crotchfelt||0-1, 2 BB|
|Red Bank Catholic||Stats|
|David Glancy||1-3, HR, R, RBI|
|Shane Panzini||1-2, HR, R, RBI|
|Vincent Bianchi||2-3, RBI|