By: Bryan Lanza
Holmdel, NJ (July 26th, 2014) – Behind strong pitching and an impressive offensive performance by Luis Hildalgo (Ridgefield, NJ/ Brookdale Community College), the Monmouth Monarchs held on and won by a score of 4-2 in game one over the Middlesex Rays. They secured the series with a 12-4 victory in game two.
Starting for the Monarchs IN Game 1 was Ian Riddell (Millburn, NJ/ Rutgers University NB) who pitched for three innings and struck out five while allowing one earned run. He escaped a bases loaded, no outs jam in the 3rd inning relatively unscathed as only one runner crossed home.
Leadoff hitter Chris Nicastro (Kenilworth, NJ/ Southern Vermont College) of the Rays was the catalyst for the inning as he led off with a hard hit single to left field. He was followed by Eric Giordano (Metuchen, NJ/ New Jersey City University) who singled to center field. A walk loaded the bases, but Riddell induced the next batter to line out softly to shortstop.
With one out, Tyler Heisch (Middlesex, NJ/ Kean University) hit a ball sharply to third. It was mishandled and the throw to second was just late allowing a run to score and each runner to advance one base.
Nonetheless, Riddell settled down and picked up his defense by retiring the next two batters on easy pop ups preventing the Rays from pulling away early.
In the bottom of the 3rd, the Monarchs immediately responded with some offense of their own as Luis Hildalgo hit a drive to the opposite field for a two run home run to put the Monarchs up 2-1.
In relief, the Monarchs turned to Evon Previte (Raritan, NJ/ Wagner College) who threw four innings, struck out four, and allowed just one run.
The run came across in the top of the 6th to tie the game at 2 as Heisch reached on a walk, advanced, and scored on an errant throw to first.
As usual, the Monarchs did not back down and responded in the bottom of the 8th to take the lead for good as Tyler Blind (Glen Rock, NJ/ Fairfield University) started off the rally with a one out single to right field. Joe Iacobellis (Morganville, NJ/ Alvernia University) followed suit with a double down the left field line to put runners on second and third. Up in another big spot, Hildalgo did not disappoint as he singled to right field to give the Monarchs a 3-2 lead. Matthew Meleo (Jackson, NJ/ Kean University) capped off the rally with a sacrifice fly to left field scoring Iacobellies and giving the Monarchs a 4-2 lead.
This would prove to be the final score as Donovan Waller (Forked River, NJ/ Rutgers University NB) and Brian Stepniak (Dallas, PA/ University of Hartford) combined to pitch the 8th and 9th respectively and shut down the Rays by not allowing a single hitter to reach base.
Pitching wise for the Rays, Jordan Del Sol (Elizabeth, NJ/ University of Massachusetts-Lowell) pitched his heart out over 7 and 1/3 innings, but was the tough luck loser.
In game two, the Monarchs relied on their strong offense to roll to a 12-4 victory and secure their spot in the 2nd round of the playoffs. With the Nationals defeating the Thunder in a hotly contested three game series, the #3 seeded Monarchs are set to face the #5 seeded Nationals starting on Tuesday at 5:30 PM at beautiful Pt. Pleasant Beach HS.