Baseball – Tommy Sheehan, Errors Overwhelm Point Boro
POINT PLEASANT BOROUGH - The Point Pleasant Borough baseball team has enjoyed its best season in years, and for their efforts, the Panthers only had to face a shutdown, left-handed ace in their second NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II Tournament game.
Manasquan left-hander Tommy Sheehan continued to show why the seventh-seeded Warriors are a dangerous draw in the state tournament by striking out 10 in a six-hit complete game as Manasquan pulled away for an 8-1 win over No. 2 Point Boro on Thursday.
It took a perfect game by Freehold Boro left-hander Dan Chiusano to hand Sheehan his first loss of the season on May 18 - the opening round of the Shore Conference Tournament. While it might not have taken actual perfection from Point Boro to beat Sheehan on Thursday, the pressure to avoid costly mistakes eventually broke the Panthers down in the sixth inning, when Point Boro committed four of its six errors in the game.
The Warriors plated six runs in the top of the sixth inning, none of which were earned runs against Point Boro pitchers Mike Falconetti and Frank Graziano. With a run already in during the inning, right fielder and No. 9 hitter Parker Day bounced a single through the left side to chase home two more runs. The Warriors put the game out of reach when Point Boro catcher Sebastian Sverio's pickoff attempt to first base with the bases loaded sailed into right field, allowing two runs to score initially and a third to come home after Severio tried to throw out Jack Sheehan at third only to watch the ball get past third baseman Mar Leyble and allow Sheehan to make it a three-run play.
Sheehan, meanwhile, recovered from surrendering an earned run in the bottom of the first inning. The Panthers managed six hits off of him and Sheehan also plunked three batters, but also issued only one walk. Sheehan loaded the bases with two out in the third to give Point Boro life, but he struck out Severio to end the threat.
The 10 baserunners allowed by Sheehan were a season high for the southpaw, whose ERA and WHIP increased to 0.78 and 0.62, respectively, after Thursday's start.
"They were definitely one of the better lineups I've faced this year," Sheehan said. "They battle you up and down the lineup and you have to be ready to battle back. I gave them some baserunners, but I felt like I executed my pitches when I needed to."
Sheehan is also recovering from an illness last week that prevented him from going to school the day before his Freehold Boro start, according to Warriors coach Bob Waldeyer.
"I was pretty much sick up until a couple days ago, but I've definitely been feeling better the last couple of days," Sheehan said. "I really had to play this game today to be there for my team, so I knew I had to get better."
With the help of his brother, Sheehan gave himself early run with which to work. Jack Sheehan reached on an error to lead off the game, stole second, went to third on a passed ball and scored on a ground out by Tommy.
Even after Point Boro tied the game on a sacrifice fly by Falconetti, Manasquan gave Sheehan the lead back in the third on a sacrifice fly by freshman first baseman James Harmstead to score Day.
Day was the key cog in Manasquan's offense Thursday, going 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBI on the sixth-inning single.
"A lot of times, teams don't expect the number nine hitter to be able to do damage," Day said. "That's why I like to swing early in the count because usually pitchers don't want to mess around against the number nine guy."
Bill Feehan, meanwhile, went 2-for-2 with a run scored to lead the Point Boro offense, despite the fact that he is a left-handed hitter who had to face a tough left-hander on the mound. Feehan has proven he can handle left-handers, including Barnegat ace Jason Groome, against whom Feehan went 1-for-1 with a walk in an April game.
Thursday's loss was the second in as many days and the senior-heavy Panthers group had to endure an elimination loss to Red Bank Catholic Wednesday in the Shore Conference Tournament and a similar outcome Thursday to officially end their season. The bitter ending follows a 21-5 campaign in which the Panthers went a perfect 14-0 in Class B South play.
"I told these guys that they're a great team," Point Boro coach Dave Drew said. "They are a special group and they did some really special things this year - winning 20 games, winning the division, going undefeated in B South. It's a tough way to see it end, but they should be proud of the year they had."
Manasquan, meanwhile, will travel to No. 3 Delran on Tuesday looking to advance to the sectional final. Jack Sheehan will take the ball fresh off of pitching a three-hit shutout Monday against Spotswood.
"Losing the (Shore Conference game to Freehold) definitely motivated us because we definitely didn't want to have that sour taste in our mouth again. We used that as motivation because we didn't want our season to end today."
(7) Manasquan 8, (2) Point Boro 1
|Pt. Boro (21-5)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||6||6|
|Tommy Sheehan (W, 5-1)||7||6||1||1||1||10|
|Mike Falconetti (L, 4-1)||5.1||4||4||1||2||2|