By: Bryan Lanza
Holmdel, NJ (July 31st, 2014) – Over an exciting three days of baseball, the Monmouth Monarchs and New Jersey Nationals went the distance with the Monarchs providing just enough offensive firepower to outlast the Nationals two games to one and advance to the ABCCL Championship. They will play the Protocall Starz who have breezed through the playoffs sweeping both teams they have played.
The Monarchs showcased their offense by scoring eight runs by the time the 4th inning was complete. The scoring started early with three runs crossing home in the 1st inning. Joe Iacobellis (Morganville, NJ/ Alvernia University) jumpstarted the attack with a double to start the game and he was advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. After a walk and an error allowed runners to reach, Chris Suseck (Flemington, NJ/ Rutgers University NB) delivered the big blow with a double to drive two runs in and put the Monarchs up 3-0.
They added two more runs in the 3rd as Connor White (Wall, NJ/ Monmouth University) scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Suseck. A single by Tyler Blind (Glen Rock, NJ/ Fairfield University) pushed across another run and made the score 5-0.
The Monarchs continued their relentless approach at the plate in the 4th inning with Luis Hildalgo (Ridgefield, NJ/ Brookdale Community College) working a leadoff walk. A single by Iacobellis put runners on 1st and 2nd and set up a booming triple to straightaway center field by White. When the inning was over, the Monarchs led by a tally of 8-1.
During this offensive outburst, Nick Morrissey (Howell, NJ/ Sacred Heart University), starting pitcher for the Monarchs, was extremely effective in shutting down the Nationals’ hitting and forcing the Nationals’ pitchers to go right back to work with little rest after a long inning. Morrissey pitched 6 innings, struck out 8, walked none, and only allowed one run.
Once he exited the game, the Nationals’ offense finally came to life, rallying when down by a score of 9-1 in the 7th inning. Two consecutive walks, a hit by pitch, and another walk gave the Nationals the chance they needed. With the bases loaded and no outs, Rob DeAngelis (Staten Island, NY/ Ramapo College) lined a single up the middle, moving each runner up a station and cutting the deficit to 9-3. Will Korosec (Cream Ridge, NJ/ Stevens Institute of Technology) of the Monarchs was in deep trouble compounded by the fact that he could not find the strike zone. After a meeting with the pitching coach, Keith Cantwell, he made the perfect pitch, inducing an easy 6-4-3 double play, happily trading a run for two outs. After the inning, the Nationals had drawn to within 9-5, but the Monarchs were happy that it was not closer after the shaky start to the inning.
In the bottom of the 7th, the Monarchs tacked on two insurance runs with White once again delivering with a huge two run double to make the score 11-5.
After the inning, the umpires and managers convened and decided that it was too dark to start another inning. The game was halted and re-started the next day (Wednesday). The Monarchs would go on to win by a score of 13-7 and go ahead 1-0 in the best of three series.
Games Two and Three:
Now in a must win situation, the Nationals responded in game two as they jumped ahead 2-0 after two innings of play.
As usual, the Monarchs did not back down scoring three runs in the 4th inning. Chris Suseck (Flemington, NJ/ Rutgers University NB) drove in Joey Falcone (New York, NY/ Colombia University) with a double to left center field. After Tyler Blind (Glen Rock, NJ/ Fairfield University) walked, Suseck and Blind executed a double steal to put runners on second and third. Pat Gardner (Caldwell, NJ/ Fordham University) recorded an RBI with a groundout to short and Jon Avallone (Demarest, NJ/ University of Massachusetts) lined a ball to left field that deflected off the outfielder’s glove and allowed the go-ahead run to score, making it 3-2.
In the bottom of the 4th, the Nationals snatched the lead right back as Kevin Delaney (Randolph, NJ/ Rutgers University NB) connected on a two run double to left-center field to give the Nationals a 4-3 lead. The next batter in the inning grounded to shortstop, but beat the throw to first as it pulled Courson (Garland, Texas/ Sam Houston State University) off the bag. In a heads up play, Courson immediately threw a bullet to third and nailed Delaney who was attempting to get back to the base after rounding the bag.
Nationals’ starting pitcher Corey Feigenbaum (West Orange, NJ/ Rowan University) limited the Monarchs to only those three runs as he pitched 7 innings and ended his outing with a strikeout with a runner on 2nd and the score still 4-3.
On the other side of the diamond, Donovan Waller (Forked River, NJ/ Rutgers University NB) kept his team in the game, despite not having his best stuff as he pitched five innings while surrendering four runs.
In the end, this game came down to the bullpens with the Nationals breaking through against the Monarchs in the 7th inning, plating three runs and extending their lead to a much more comfortable 8-3. Adnan Pjetrovic (Clifton, NJ/ Seton Hall University) came through with another big hit as he brought in two runs with a hard-hit single to right field. Later in the inning, Ryan Rinsky (North Caldwell, NJ/ Ramapo College) reached on a walk and scored on a groundout to make it 8-3.
The Monarchs provided a bit of a scare in the 9th inning as a leadoff single and a double immediately applied pressure on the Nationals to close the game out. Joe Iacobellis (Morganville, NJ/ Alvernia University) cut the deficit to 8-5 as he drove in two runs with a single, but the Nationals’ Anthony LoBello (Staten Island, NY/ Misericordia University) shut the door after that and secured the 8-5 win, pushing this series to the decisive third game.
In Game 3, the Monarchs once again relied on a potent combination of offensive firepower and solid pitching to outlast the Nationals in this final game.
Already up by a score of 5-3, Joey Falcone (New York, NY/ Colombia University) added two huge insurance runs as he ripped a double to left field to make the score 7-3.
A solo home run in the next inning off the bat of Ryan Rinsky (North Caldwell, NJ/ Ramapo College) of the Nationals cut the deficit to 7-4, but Brian Stepniak (Dallas, PA/ University of Hartford) shut the door the rest of the way, securing the game, the series, and the Monarchs’ hard earned spot in the ABCCL Championship.
The Monarchs will face off against the Starz who have been dominant so far in the playoffs, winning each game they have played. Game one is scheduled for Saturday in South Amboy at Raritan Bay Waterfront Park with an 11 AM start time. Games two and three (if necessary) are set for Sunday starting at 11 AM at the same location. With weather always a factor, Saturday’s game might be cancelled and Monday would be used to play game three (if necessary).