By Steven Knapp
Middletown, NJ (July 26th, 2014) – As the ABCCL entered postseason play, all regular season records proved to be irrelevant as the Freehold Clippers, who entered as the eighth seed, swept the top-seeded New Brunswick Matrix in two games. The Matrix finished off the regular season 20-8 and on a two game win streak, while the Clippers were just 10-21 and were coming off a loss to the Ocean Giants that solidified their spot in the cellar of the standings. Saturday showed that when it comes to the post season play, anything can happen.
In the first inning of game one, both teams came out ready to put runs on the board. Ryan MacFarlane (Rutgers University- Newark; hometown Warwick, NY) led off the game for the Clippers with a single between short and third. Brian Healy (University of Scranton/ hometown Middletown, NJ) followed with a line drive up the middle that one hopped past the center fielder, and MacFarlane scored from first to put the Clippers up 1-0.
Steve Petriello (Rowan University; hometown South Plainfield, NJ) and Sean Rappaleya (Middlesex County College/ hometown Sayreville, NJ) led off for the Matrix in the bottom of the first with back to back singles to right. Kris Fellin (New Jersey City University/ hometown Middlesex, NJ) then hit a fly ball to right that scored Petriello to tie the game at 1-1.
The Clippers bats would stay hot putting up four more runs in the fifth and sixth innings. MacFarlane started the fifth with a walk that was followed by Gerry Patrizio’s (Rutgers U-Newark, NJ/hometown Belle Mead, NJ) single to center. MacFarlane moved to third with Healy’s fly out to right, which allowed him to score when a ground ball that was bobbled by the short stop to put the Clippers up 4-1. In the top of the sixth Harrison Preschel (Long Island University-Brooklyn, NY/hometown Teaneck, NJ) hit a home run over the left field fence to make it 5-1. They continued to battle at the plate, Matthew D’Ercole (Keystone College/hometown Warwick, NY) singled up the middle and MacFarlane doubled to right to make it second and third. Patrizio hit a ground ball to third, D’Ercole was thrown at home trying to score. Healy hit an RBI single to center to score MacFarlane. During the next at bat, Patrizio attempted to steal third and when the throw from the catcher went into left field, he was able to score, putting the Clippers out in front 7-1.
While the Matrix were facing a six run deficit they did not give up. Alex Christian (The College of New Jersey/hometown Milltown, NJ) led off with an infield single on a ground ball up the middle. Jake Yanez (New Jersey Institute of Technology/ hometown Freehold, NJ) walked and the next batter, Brian Lamboy (Gulf Coast State Community College; hometown Manalapan, NJ) hit a high fast ball to left, which scored Christian to make the game 7-2. Petriello kept the inning going with another single that loaded the bases. Yanez, who was on third, scored on a pass ball. The Matrix capitalized on another Clippers mistake, when Rappaleya hit a line drive to left field that was dropped, scoring Lamboy. The inning ended with the Matrix narrowing the gap to 7-4.
The Clippers would get solid pitching in the last two innings from Adam Lawsky (University of Massachusetts-Amherst/hometown Bradley Beach, NJ) and Cody Darley (Keystone College/ hometown Port St. Lucie, FL) who shut the Matrix out in the eighth and ninth. They held on to win game one of the series 7-4 and were just one win away from knocking off the top seed in the ABCCL.
After dropping game one the Matrix came out of the gates ready to play in game two. In the top of the first Steve Petriello got on with a one out single over the third basemen’s head and Sean Rappaleya hit a line drive single to center. The runners moved to second and third after Jon Torregrozza (Montclair State University/hometown Bound Brook, NJ) laid down a sacrifice bunt. Andrew Neisch (New Jersey City U/hometown Colonia, NJ) knocked the two in with a double to deep right center and put the Matrix up 2-0.
The Clippers wouldn’t get their offense going until the bottom of the third, but did so in a big way. Matthew D’Ercole led off with a walk. He moved to second on a ground out to first and then over to third when the throw to second for a double play was wide and went into the outfield. Patrizio walked which and later scored along with D’Ercole thanks to Brian Healy’s two-RBI triple that tied the game 2-2. Giovanni Lasalandra (Mercy College, NY/hometown Warwick, NY) knocked in Healy with a single to center. Jordan Burst (Wentworth Institute of Technology, MA/Jackson, NJ) hit a second two-RBI triple in that inning that score Lasalandra and Troy Sutton (Rutgers University- New Brunswick/hometown Pine Brook, NJ) who had walked. Burst also came in to score on a ground ball that was bobbled by the short stop. The Clippers made a statement, putting up six runs and giving them a 6-2 lead.
The six runs scored in the bottom of the third proved to be the only inning that the Clippers put up runs on the board. But it was all they needed as their pitching was strong and able to hold the four run lead over the final six innings. The Matrix picked up two more runs but it would not be enough. The Clippers starting pitcher Benito Gonzales (TCNJ/hometown Trenton, NJ) threw a solid seven innings for his team, Adam Lawsky played the role of the set-up man in the eighth again while Cody Darley took the mound again in the ninth. Darley recorded the first two outs and Jordan Burst came on to get the third. With their 6-4 win, the Clippers completed their first round sweep and will move on to face the Medford Starz in Round 2 on Tuesday at 7 PM in Medford at Bob Meyer Field.