Baseball – TR South Walks Off with OCT Semifinal Win Over Brick
TOMS RIVER - Most people would probably call the way Toms River South won Saturday's Ocean County Tournament semifinal game against Brick a "walk-off win" but the Indians have done it so often over the years that they have their own term for it, as juniro Matt Shiffer reinforced.
"It was time for a South finish," Shiffer said.
Shiffer led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a double and scored on a sacrifice fly by Tyler Wisnewski to give the third-seeded Indians a walk-off win over No. 7 Brick. Toms River South advances to the OCT final against Toms River North, currently scheduled for Wednesday night at Toms River East but subject to change.
Shiffer lined a shot to the left-center gap on a 1-1 pitch from Brick starter Mike Soldo and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Indians third baseman Ben Montenegro. In his prior two at-bats against Soldo, Shiffer flew out to center and dropped down a bunt single, giving him a 2-for-3 day at the plate.
"We saw (Soldo) twice in one week, so we had a pretty good feel for him," Shiffer said. "He put it right there and I just had to come through. We had to find a way to get a run and keep playing for another ball on the wall, because we've already got one this season."
Brick opted not to walk Wisnewski - the cleanup hitter - with first base open and the senior catcher lifted a fly ball to deep right-center that was plenty deep enough to allow Shiffer to coast home with the winning run.
"In that situation, I'm just looking for something to drive, something that will drive (Shiffer) in," Wisnewski said. "I got something to drive to the outfield and got the job done."
Trevor Wagner pitched a two-hit shutout for his fifth win of the season (5-2), striking out four and walking five - including one intentional in the top of the seventh. Wagner also went 2-for-2 at the plate.
"I knew I had to bounce back today and get my team to the finals," said Wagner, who threw two innings on Thursday to close out a win over Brick Memorial and three innings on Monday to earn the win in relief against the same Brick team he beat on Saturday. "This is what we strive for all season so I felt great and did what I had to do."
Soldo allowed just four hits in taking the hard-luck loss and had faced just one over the minimum heading into the bottom of the seventh. The left-hander struck out two and did not issue a walk. Soldo also reached base three times, finishing 1-for-2 with a pair of walks.
In 10 2/3 innings this week, Soldo held Toms River South to two runs on just five hits, but suffered two losses.
Toms River South will now take on Toms River North in the OCT final in a game that could pit Class A South co-champions against one another. If Toms River North beats Brick Memorial on Monday, the Mariners and Indians will share the Class A South title. If Brick Memorial wins Monday, the Toms River South wins the division outright.
The two Toms River rivals split the regular-season series, with Wagner no-hitter the Mariners in a 2-0 Toms River South win and Toms River North topping the Indians 3-2 at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood. Junior left-hander Justin Fall is up next in the rotation to pitch and Wagner will also be available if the game is played on Wednesday or later.
"We feel like we have the two best pitchers in A South," Shiffer said. "They can keep us in any game and that's big for us at the plate because we know we're always in the game."