NJSIAA Tournament

Group IV Semifinals

At East Brunswick Tech

Hunterdon Central 5, Southern 2

After jumping out to an early lead, the Rams (18-10) saw their historic run through the Group IV Tournament come to an end Wednesday at the hands of defending Group IV champion Hunterdon Central (23-5).

The Red Devils answered two Southern runs in the bottom of the second inning with a two-run triple by Andrew Ollwerther and RBI single by Pete Cosentino on consecutive pitches in the bottom of the third and tacked on two more runs over the course of the game to keep Southern at a distance.

Southern loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the second and opened the scoring when left fielder Vaughn Walker drew an RBI walk on a 3-2 pitch after falling behind 0-2 to start the at-bat. Sophomore Cole Markley followed with a ground ball to shortstop and beat the relay from second to first to pick up an RBI fielder's choice ground out and give the Rams a 2-0 lead.

Mark Saponara started the third-inning rally for Hunterdon Central with a one-out double to the gap in right-center. Southern starter Pat Barrett induced a ground out back to the mound for the second out and walked No. 3 hitter and catcher Matt Padre.

With two out, Ollwerther slammed a towering shot to center field that carried over the head of Rams center fielder Noah Brown and chased home the tying runs. Ollwerther coasted into third and scored on the next pitch, which Cosentino grounded back through the middle for an RBI single and a 3-2 Hunterdon Central lead.

Saponara struck again in the fourth inning when he fought off a 2-2 fastball from Barrett into left field for a two-out RBI single to chase home Kevin Johnson and make it 4-2. Johnson led off the inning with a single through the middle, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brian Adams and went to third on a ground out to second base by shortstop Ryan Koep.

Hunterdon Central pushed one more run across in the top of the fifth, when senior left-hander Zach Fillmore came on to pitch for Southern. Fillmore surrendered a leadoff single to Collin Mason, then issued three walks to force in a run, with a fielder's choice ground out that cut off a run at the plate mixed in.

Fillmore induced one more fielder's choice and notched a strikeout to limit the damage to one run.

Needing three runs in the bottom of the seventh against Hunterdon Central starter Peter Woltersdorf (8-0), Southern started the inning when junior Marcos Matias lined a shot over Saponara's head in center field. Matias, however, was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a triple. After an infield single by Zach Oddo with one out, Woltersdorf induced a game-ending double play.

Southern's loss ends the program's longest state tournament run in 50 years. Friday's South Jersey Group IV win over Lenape clinched the Rams' first sectional championship since 1967. Southern won this year's South Jersey IV Tournament as a No. 11 seed.

Hunterdon Central will face Millburn in the Group IV final on Saturday in Toms River at a site and time to be determined.

Box Score

Hunterdon Cent. (23-5)0031100560
Southern (18-10)0200000260



Hunterdon CentralIPHRERBBSOPC
Peter Woltersdorf (W, 8-0)762214103
Pat Barrett (L, 2-1)45442375
Zach Fillmore11113133
Nick Simone20001232


Top Hitters

Hunterdon CentralGame Stats
Mark Saponara2-3, 2B, BB, R, RBI
Andrew Ollwerther1-3, 3B, R, 2 RBI
Pete Cosentino1-4, RBI
Kevin Johnson1-3, R
SouthernGame Stats
Marcos Matias2-3, 2B, R
Nolan Watson2-3
Pat Barrett1-3
Zach Oddo1-2, HBP



Group II Semifinals

At Rowan University

Manasquan 2, Governor Livingston 1

Senior left-hander Tommy Sheehan tossed a three-hitter and the Warriors (15-10) scratched out a run in the top of the seventh to defeat the Highlanders (26-4) and advance to Saturday's Group II state final.

Senior catcher Adam Schreck led off the top of the seventh with a single up the middle and Joe Ostberg entered as a courtesy runner. Ostberg advanced to second on a passed ball, went to third on a groundout by Dylan Finn and scored on a wild pitch.


Sheehan had a biting curveball that was dropping in for strikes to go along with his usual overpowering fastball, and that combo kept Gov. Livingston in check all afternoon. A line drive triple in the first inning by Stephen Reid was the only hard-hit ball off Sheehan all game. The Notre Dame-bound Sheehan also had one of his most efficient outings of the season, throwing 92 pitches in seven innings while striking out five and walking one.

Manasquan's first run came in the second inning when sophomore third baseman James Harmstead led off with a double. He moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a groundout by freshman Alex Galvan.

Gov. Livingston tied the game 1-1 in the fifth inning, starting with Will Jennings hustling to slide head first and beat Galvan to the bag for an infield single. Courtesy runner Jace Tweeten stole second, went to third on a passed ball and scored when leadoff hitter Tyler McCulloch reach on an error.

Gov. Livingston senior lefty Nicky Cocchia (8-1) suffered his first loss of the season but pitched well. He allowed four hits while striking out six and walking one on 92 pitches.

Manasquan will play Whippany Park on Saturday in the Group II final.

Box Score

Manasquan (15-10)0100001241
Gov. Livingston (26-5)0000100131



Tommy Sheehan (W, 6-2)73101592
Nicky Cocchia (L, 8-1)74221692


Top Hitters

ManasquanGame Stats
Tommy Sheehan1-2, 2B, BB
James Harmstead1-3, 2B, R
Adam Schreck1-3
Dylan Finn1-3, 2B


Gov. LivingstonGame Stats
Stephen Reid1-3, 3B
P.J. Gonnelli1-3
Will Jennings1-3



South Jersey Non-Public B Final

(1) Gloucester Catholic 9, (2) St. Rose 4

The Purple Roses overcame an early four-run deficit, but the Rams (27-3) scored five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to foil the Purple Roses (24-4) and win their 22nd sectional championship. Gloucester Catholic will look to add to its state record 17 overall Group titles when it faces Newark Academy Saturday in the Non-Public B final.

After falling behind 4-0 in the first inning, St. Rose rallied for four runs in the top of the third inning on an RBI double by Brendan Hueth and an RBI single by Joe Volpe. The RBI single also marked the 100th hit of Volpe's varsity career.

St. Rose also threatened in the fourth with the bases loaded an none out, but Rams sophomore right fielder Lillo Paxia made a diving catch in shallow right field to take away a potential run-scoring hit.

Brendan Bean picked up the win on the mound by throwing six innings. Brandon Mology suffered his first loss of the season for St. Rose.


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