By: Bryan Lanza
Point Pleasant Beach, NJ (July 24th, 2014) – With playoff positioning on the line, the Ocean Giants outlasted the Freehold Clippers for a hard-fought 4-2 victory this past Thursday evening.
The Giants struck first with a three run spot on the board in the bottom of the 4th inning. A double by Sean Arnott (Brielle, NJ/ Temple University) put runners on 2nd and 3rd and set up the big inning. Tyler Saito (Brielle, NJ/ Monmouth University) brought in one run with a groundout to shortstop which not only earned himself an RBI, but also moved Sean Arnott to third base.
Arnott would score one batter later as DJ Nozza (Belle Mead, NJ/ St. Peter’s University) notched himself an RBI on a groundout. Later in the inning, Dom Mancuso (Orton Beach, NJ/ Widener University) would reach base on a single and scored on an error to make the margin 3-0.
Pitching on the mound for the Giants was Kevin Scisorek (Hillsborough, NJ/ Widener University) who was extremely effective in guarding the 3-0 lead as he pitched five impressive scoreless innings.
After he left the game, the Clippers’ bats came to life and they managed to push across a run in both the 6th and 7th innings. In the 6th inning, Cody Darley (Port St. Lucie, FL/ Keystone College) singled, which placed runners on the corners. Brian Healy (Middletown, NJ/ University of Scranton) brought in a run on a sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to 3-1.
An RBI single to left field by Harrison Preschel (Teaneck, NJ/ Long Island University- Brooklyn) an inning later brought the Clippers to within 3-2.
The Giants pushed across an important insurance run in the bottom of the 8th to give their pitcher a more comfortable margin in the 9th inning. With the bases loaded, Eric Scamardella (Holmdel, NJ/ Catholic University) reached base on a walk, producing the RBI.
Up 4-2, Eric Scamardella showcased his ability to not only perform offensively, but to close out a ballgame. He pitched a scoreless 9th inning to preserve the 4-2 lead and guarantee the Giants’ 7th seed in the ABCCL playoff picture.
After the ballgame, Clippers’ head coach Rich Gawlak looked at the positives and mentioned the multiple double plays turned by the middle of the infield. The double play tandem of Sean Rogers (Kendall Park, NJ/ Felician College) at second base and Jonathan Baturgil (Freehold, NJ/ Long Island University- Brooklyn) at shortstop turned three smooth double plays, one in each of the following innings; the 3rd, 5th, and 6th.
Angelo Fiore, head coach of the Giants, also offered some comments after the game. Asked how he feels about his team heading into the playoffs, “I have been confident about this team the entire season. I believe our pitching matches up well against any team in the league.” He added, “If you look at the all-star game, we had a bunch of guys who had a huge impact on the outcome of that game,” referencing Nick Gonchar (Staten Island, NY/ Molloy College), Sean Arnott, and Stefan Poggioli (Middletown, NJ/ Catholic University). Looking back on the overall year, Fiore lauded the free substitution system saying “I like to make use of the free substitution and get everyone into the game so every player on the team feels like he improved moving forward into the fall.”
With the regular season now complete, the #7 seed Giants face off against the #2 seed Starz at 11 AM at Hartford Crossing on Saturday. The series is a best of three and there are two games planned for Saturday. If the two teams split the doubleheader, they will play a final deciding game on Sunday at 10 AM in Point Pleasant Beach.
The #8 seed Clippers will play the #1 seed Matrix at 10 AM at Middletown HS South on Saturday. If necessary, Sunday’s game will be at 2 PM at Michael Tighe Park.