By: Bryan Lanza
West Orange, NJ (July 27th, 2014) – In a hotly contested battle, the New Jersey Nationals came out on top in game three over the Jackson Thunder by a score of 3-1 on a sunny and humid afternoon in West Orange, NJ.
In a pitching duel between the two starting pitchers, it was apparent that every pitch mattered and carried enormous importance. Nationals’ starter Kyle Borton (Mineral Ridge, OH/ Westminster University) seemed to embrace the pressure as he worked in and out of trouble over 8 innings, struck out two, walked two, and only allowed one unearned run.
The Nationals jumped ahead 1-0 in the top of the 3rd as Adnan Pjetrovic (Clifton, NJ/ Seton Hall University) hit a bullet to right field. The right fielder initially came in, which cost him the ball as it sailed over his head and continued to roll on the turf playing field. Pjetrovic was able to reach third on the exciting play. The next batter Mackenze Genauer (Montclair, NJ/ Trinity College), hit a hard line drive that ricocheted off the pitcher, allowing the hitter to reach and the run to score.
Luckily, the Thunder pitcher, Bobby Klatt (Leonardo, NJ/ Susquehanna University) was not hurt on the play as he remained in the game and went on to pitch all 9 innings! It was a valiant effort as he struck out seven batters and kept the game close to give his team a chance to come back and win.
Nonetheless, the big hit eluded the Thunder as Borton was able to shut down the opposing offense every time they put runners on base and in scoring position. Overall, the Thunder had 10 hits at the end of the day, but only pushed across one run.
At the time, the one run they scored in the 7th inning seemed to be the momentum changer for the struggling Thunder offense as it tied the game at one. Pinch hitter Gus Constantino (Oxford, CT/ Western Connecticut State University) hit a single up the middle with one out. He moved to second on a ball lightly tapped to the pitcher that resulted in the second out of the inning. Nick Brebner (Toms River, NJ/ University of Tampa) followed with a groundball to third, but reached first safely as the infielder narrowly missed hitting the runner advancing to third and made an errant throw across the diamond.
With runners on the corners and one out, Jimmy Kinneally (Brielle, NJ/ Susquehanna University) hit a pop up to shallow left field that looked like trouble. Three fielders converged and the shortstop and 3rd basemen collided with the ball falling in fair territory to tie the game. It’s important to note that the inning could have been much worse if not for a diving play and quick throw to first by second basemen Genauer to record the first out of the inning on the leadoff hitter.
As the Nationals showed throughout the season, they have the ability to respond to tough situations and they lived up to this as Brett Fontenelli (Toms River, NJ/ Seton Hall University) lined a solo homerun just over the left-center field fence in the top of the 8th to give the Nationals the lead right back.
In the top of the 9th, the Nationals added to their narrow margin as Pjetrovic split the gap in right center and came all the way around to score on an exciting inside the park home run. Pjetrovic finished the day 2 for 4 with two runs scored.
After pitching 8 innings, Borton handed the ball over to Anthony LoBello (Staten Island, NY/ Misericordia University) who shut the door on the game and the series, securing the 3-1 victory.
After the game, the head coach of the Nationals praised the efforts of his pitching staff, referencing the outing by Corey Feigenbaum (West Orange, NJ/ Rowan University) in game two of the series. Feigenbaum pitched all 9 innings, only allowing two hits and not surrendering a run. Asked about the overall effort of his team, he said “It truly speaks to the character of this team to come back and win the series after losing the 1st game in which we left a lot of men on base.” He also attributed the victory to the clutch hitting of Adnan Pjetrovic, noting that his right-center field approach is what you love to see in a hitter. Asked how he feels facing the Monarchs, “I’m really excited for the challenge.”
It will surely be a great series as the #5 seeded Nationals faceoff against the #3 seeded Monarchs with the first game on Tuesday at 5:30 PM at Pt. Pleasant Beach HS..