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Bilancio’s Blast in Tenth Gives Monarchs 3-2 Victory in Deciding Round One Playoff Game

Jul 31 2017 ABCCL League News | Comments Off on Bilancio’s Blast in Tenth Gives Monarchs 3-2 Victory in Deciding Round One Playoff Game

By Emily Winter

Holmdel, NJ – The Monmouth Monarchs and Ocean Giants squared off once again to determine who would move on in Round 2 of the ABCCL Playoff Tournament. After a nail-biting, ten-inning battle, it was the Monarchs that came away with a dramatic 3-2 win.

In the top of the third, with one out, Alfredo (A.J.) Arias (East Brunswick, NJ/ Mercer County Community College, NJ) was hit by a pitch and would go on to score the first run of the game when Cid Porter’s (Lincroft, NJ/ Catholic University, DC) line drive single was misplayed in the outfield.

“Porter has been a spark plug through the second half of the year,” said Dustin Javins, Monarch Head Coach. “Cid struggled a bit early on but my assistants, Matt Meleo and Joe Iacobellis have done a wonderful job making adjustments with him throughout the summer.”

The Monarchs added to their slim lead in the top of the sixth when Porter collected another single and advanced to second when the throw from the outfield was off line. The next batter, Joseph Rotelli (Morganville, NJ/ Dominican College, NY), doubled down the left field line, pushing Porter across the plate with the Monarchs’ second run of the day.

Trailing 2-0, the Giants began to turn the tide in the bottom of the seventh when Evan Pietronico (Matawan, NJ/ NJ Institute of Technology, NJ) lifted his second homerun of the series to center, narrowing the Monarchs’ lead to 2-1.

The Giants would erase that lead in the following inning when Mason Marino (Brooklyn, NY/ Caldwell College, NJ) added a round-tripper of his own to tie the game at 2-all.

After both teams went quietly in the ninth, the Giants and Monarchs entered a tenth inning with their playoff chances on the line. In the top of what would prove to be the final frame, Monarchs’ clean-up hitter Frank Bilancio (Chesterfield, NJ/ Saint Edward’s University, TX) was first up and wasted little time, sending the second pitch he saw over the centerfield fence to claim a 3-2 Monarchs lead. It was the Monarchs’ only hit of the inning, bringing the Giants to the plate with one last chance to tie or win the game.

With the Monarchs’ Chris Rossi (Branchburg, NJ/ Kean University, NJ) on in relief, the big lefty recorded a swinging third strike to start off the inning. The next Giants’ batter, Justin Bates (Brick, NJ/ Montclair State University, NJ), lined a single to right, keeping the Giants’ hopes alive. But Rossi had other ideas and retired the next two batters on swinging strikes to close out the exciting game between these two closely matched opponents.

“Rotelli and Bilancio have been our consistent power threats from day one,” said Coach Javins. “We expected a good summer out of both of those guys, but what they have done to this point has been really special, especially Rotelli. I believe he’s leading the ABCCL in Triple Crown categories (batting average, homeruns and RBIs).”

Both teams received exceptional efforts from the hurlers. The Giants duo of James Manos (Freehold, NJ/Stockton University, NJ) and Justin Kaplan (Marlboro, NJ/Penn State-Harrisburg, PA) kept the team in the game, allowing just the three runs and eight hits over 10 innings, with three strikeouts. They issued only one walk on the day.

In addition to Rossi, the Monarchs Jake Alba (South Plainfield, NJ/Stony Brook University, NY) and Alexis Calderon (Bethlehem, PA/Manhattan College, NY) combined for nine hits and eight strikeouts while yielding no free passes.  Commenting on their work in the do or die circumstances, Javins added, “Rossi entered the game in the ninth after Calderon retired the first batter of the inning because three lefties were due up and we love our chances with him on the mound against lefties. Rossi came in and filled up the zone and competed hard, just as we expected. Alba, our starter, was great allowing just one run over seven innings. And Alexis did a nice job keeping things close. We need those kinds of efforts against this team… and we got them.”

When asked about their next playoff game at Owens Park in Williamstown on Tuesday, August 1 with the third overall seed, Jersey Aces, Javins had only positive things to say, “Their management and players have done a fabulous job all summer long. They are a very good team. To this point we have had some fun games with them. I expect them to try to come out fast and compete, just like our guys. Obviously we hope to end up on top but anything can happen in a three game series.”