By Steven Knapp
Old Bridge, NJ (July 22nd, 2014) –The umpires having declared that the seventh would be the final inning of the evening, the Monarchs came up to bat looking for one last offensive push. Down 11-9, the odds of yet another comeback in the game seemed both unlikely, yet at the same time inevitable. Both the Nationals and Monarchs had trailed one another several times in the game. Both had put together their own impressive six-run innings. It was a wild night of scoring that physically and emotionally exhausted the two squads – each battling to prove themselves the more resilient bunch.
It was of little surprise then, when Joe Iacobellis (Morganville, NJ/ Alvernia University, PA) of the Monarchs stepped up to the plate and brought in the tying runs with a two-out single. After such noble effort and resiliency shown by both sides, it was only appropriate that the game would end up finishing in a tie. In this game, no lead proved wide enough to be safe.
The first two innings flew by easily enough, with Matt Wagner (Colonia, NJ/ Kean University, NJ) of the Monarchs and Sam Ackerman (Montclair, NJ/ Franklin & MarshalL College, PA) of the Nationals each working scoreless innings. It was in the top of the third that the bats woke up and never went back to sleep. The Nationals batters netted four runs to set the stage for a monster day at the plate. In the bottom half of that third inning, the Monarchs responded with a two-run home run down the left field line by Hunter Courson (Garland, Texas/ Sam Houston State U, TX).
In the bottom of the fourth, Jon Avallone (Demarest, NJ/ University of Massachusetts) of the Monarchs crushed a solo home run to center field, closing his team’s deficit to just one run.
The Nationals retaliated in the top of the fifth with a run scored by Cosmo Iacobellis (Marlboro, NJ/ Brookdale CC to William Paterson U) who scurried home on a ground ball.
The first of two six-run barrages in the game came in the bottom of the fifth. The Monarchs scored to tie the game up at five when Hunter Courson’s high popup dropped to the grass a few feet into right field. Then, with the bases loaded, Jon Avallone hit a bases clearing double to the left field fence to make it 8-5 in favor of the Monarchs. A fielder’s choice later in the frame allowed yet another run score. The inning concluded with the Monarchs up 9-5.
The score remained unchanged until the top of the seventh. In the blink of an eye, the Nationals tallied six runs and reclaimed the lead. Brett Fontenelli (Toms River, NJ/ Seton Hall University, NJ) started the scoring with a two-run home run that sailed over the left field fence. The next sequence included a walk, a hit batsman, and three more consecutive walks to tie the game at nine-all. At that point, Luis Hildalgo (Ridgefield, NJ/ Brookdale Community College) of the Monarchs came on to take over on the mound for the Monarchs. Hildalgo got a rude welcome to the game from Cosmo Iacobellis, who hit a single deep off of the left field fence to score another run. That hit loaded the bases for Rob DeAngelis (Staten Island, NY/ Ramapo College, NJ), who delivered with a base hit to right-center field to score the National’s eleventh run of the night. Unshaken, Hildalgo then induced a double play ground ball to end the inning.
The umpires then assessed the dwindling daylight and determined it would be the last half inning for the Monarchs. Back-to-back walks leading off the inning was the perfect formula to keep the Monarchs alive in the game. Two outs and two men in scoring position was the setup for Joe Iacobellis, who made arguably the most clutch hit of the night, driving in both runners with his single to right-center field. A chance to win the whole contest came up just short however, as a fly ball ended the inning and the darkness put away any chance of playing extra innings.