New Brunswick forces deciding game
Costly Cleveland errors prove pivotal
August 10, 2012 -
New Brunswick scored their lowest runs total of the tournament, but their pitching and defense shutdown the steamrolling Cleveland side to force a deciding game on Saturday for the national championship. As many teams have done this year, Cleveland lost an early lead and could not find their bats late in the game to create a comeback. More importantly, uncharacteristic defensive errors and a base running blunder from Cleveland caused even more runs to shift in New Brunswick's favor.
This is the first final to feature non-Big Four teams (Baltimore, Washington, New Orleans, Detroit) since 1994 when Brooklyn beat Altoona. Prior to that, the 1965 Pittsburgh club was the last non-Big Four to win the tournament. This year, several teams had legitimate chances to win the championship, and the high-scoring Cleveland and New Brunswick franchises came out on top.
New Brunswick finished runners-up in their first tournament as the Matrix in 2009. Cleveland is managed by South Fork, Pennsylvania native Don Navatsyk. Both he and New Brunswick's Glenn Fredericks have close-knit teams with strong pitching, outstanding defense, and free-swinging batters. The "patient aggressiveness" from the teams have yielded two, sub-2 hour, action-packed games at the Point, and New Brunswick's win on Friday night promises a third match-up on Saturday.
Blizzard Score First
A good crowd of over one-thousand was on hand to watch this historic match-up. Cleveland opened the scoring in the first as Kevin Bernay doubled to left-field. Hot-hitter Dan Belliveau then tripled to right to score Bernay.
An uncharacteristic error by Cleveland shortstop Andrew Frey put runners on the corners for New Brunswick in the top of the 2nd, but starter Isaiah Walsh got Howie Brey to line-out to Frey to end the inning and strand two. Walsh is normally the closer for the Blizzard, but--since the team hasn't had a need for a closer this week--he was the freshest pitcher on staff and lasted a complete game of over 130 pitches.
The teams exchanged scoreless inning with several ground-ball outs. In the top of the fourth, New Brunswick's DJ Roche continued his impressive tournament with a lead-off single to centerfield. Two batters later Dan Sweeney singled, but Sean Keenan hit into a fielder's choice that got Roche out at third. Howie Brey came up again with two outs and 2 men on, and this time singled to centerfield to score Sweeney from second and tie the game.
Erros Help Matrix Take The Lead
New Brunswick pitcher Matt Cesare did not allow a hit from the 3rd through 5th innings, which set-up the Matrix for their small rally in the sixth. Roche led off with a walk from starter Isaiah Walsh (who pitched the entire game for Cleveland). Anderson Rosa used a sacrifice bunt to advance him to second, and Sweeney reached on a throwing error by shortstop Frey. Sweeney attempted to steal second base with Keenan at the plate. While catcher Jim Jaksa got the ball to second in time, it was not fielded cleanly and rolled into the outfield, allowing Roche to score from third. Keenan then doubled to left to give the Matrix a 3-1 lead.
"I think that was a big momentum changer," said New Brunswick manager Glenn Fredericks. "Just like they made us pay for our mistakes in the first game, we kind of did the same thing to them."
"I thought we were careless a little bit," said Cleveland manager Don Navatsyk. "Sometimes when you're mashing people, you start to let the little things slip. But, we also hit some shots right at people with men in scoring position. We hit two balls right at that first baseman with runners in scoring position, so it could have been a different game if those go through."
New Pitcher But Same Results
Belliveau led off the seventh with a single for the Blizzard, but was doubled-up with Frey as the strong New Brunswick middle infielders continued their impressive performance on double-plays. The Blizzard got a one-out hit from Saia in the seventh, but relief pitcher Jon Young struck out Bernay and got pinch-hitter Jonathan Tasis to fly out to center.
"Mat [Cesare] did a really good job coming out and keeping them off balance," said reliever Jon Young. "I came in throwing a little harder and they were thrown off by it."
In the top of the 8th, the Matrix added a final insurance run. With one out, Rosa, Sweeney, and Keenan strung together three consecutive hits, scoring Rosa from second. The Matrix stranded two in the inning. However, Cleveland managed only one hit (Belliveau) in the 8th as Young struck out one.
In the top of the ninth, Marsh finished off his complete game by retiring the side in tour batters, stranding Cody Pace at second. With their final at-bats in the ninth, the Blizzard started with a single to center from Jack LaMarca. He later advanced to third on a pass ball. However, Urbania and Saia grounded out consecutively and Bernay was struck out by Young as the Matrix even the series at 1 game a piece heading into tomorrow's deciding game.
New Brunswick's top three in their order only managed 1 hit in 15 combined at-bats, including 2 strike outs. The 6th (Sweeney) and 7th (Keenan) hitters collected 4 hits, scored two runs, and reached base 6 times in 8 at-bats. For Cleveland, Giancarlo had two hits but no runs or RBIs. Dan Belliveau was 3-for-4, including his run-scoring triple in the first.
New Brunswick manager Glenn Fredericks: "Since we brought this program back out in '09, it's been our goal to take on of these [championships]. These guys put it together and they said "we're going to make a run this year" and this team sticks by one another and they just enjoy playing baseball with one another."
Winning pitcher Jon Young (Rutgers): "None of us really ever played together, but we're all from the same area and we always played each other in high school. Now, basically all of us are in college and they put us together and we work really well together, especially with our coaches."
Cleveland manager Don Navatsyk: "We made a couple errors we don't normally make Our shortstop has been flawless all summer, and he threw one away. Our catcher threw one into centerfield when we had the guy dead-to-rights, but that's baseball. We've got to hit the ball [tomorrow. We're not going to win with 1 [run]."
|Starters: Cesare (NBR), Marsh (CLE)
Winner: Young (NBR)
Loser: Marsh (CLE)
|Top of 1st|
|2 Pace - Fly out to left = OUT
6 Keenan - Fly out to right = OUT
24 Muha - Ground out to second baseman, 4-3 = OUT
|Bottom of 1st|
|1 Navatsyk - Fly out to center = OUT
4 LaMarca - Double to left = HIT
7 Belliveau - Triple to right = HIT, 1 RUN
20 Frey - Ground out to shortstop, 6-3 = OUT
16 Ammar - Line-out to second baseman = OUT
|Top of 2nd|
|15 Roche - Ground out to shortstop, 6-3 = OUT
9 Rosa - Walk
10 Sweeney - Fielder's Choice, 6-4 = OUT
1 Keenan - Error on shortstop = ERROR, 1st & 3rd
22 Brey - Line drive to short stop = OUT
|Bottom of 2nd|
|14 Urbania - Ground out to short stop, 6-3 = OUT
34 Giancarlo - Double off left field wall = HIT
3 Bernay - Ground out to third, 5-3 = OUT
32 Jaksa - Ground out to Picher, 1-3 = OUT
|Top of 3rd|
|32 Rivera - Ground out to second, 4-3 = OUT
2 Pace - Ground out to second, 4-3 = OUT
6 Keenan - Walk
24 Muha - Strike out = OUT
|Bottom of 3rd|
|1 Navatsyk - Ground out to short stop, 6-3 = OUT
4 LaMarca - Strike out = OUT
7 Belliveau - Ground out to first, 3-1 = OUT
|Top of 4th|
|15 Roche - Single to center = HIT
9 Rosa - Pop out to short stop = OUT
10 Sweeney - Single to left = HIT
1 Keenan - Fielder's Choice out at third = OUT
22 Brey - Single up the middle = HIT, 1 RUN, 1st & 2nd
32 Rivera - Ground out, 1-3 = OUT
|Bottom of 4th|
|20 Frey - Pop out to second = OUT
16 Ammar - Fly out to center field = OUT
14 Urbania - Strike out = OUT
|Top of 5th|
|2 Pace - Ground out to second, 4-3 = OUT
6 Guida - Ground out to short stop, 6-3 = OUT
24 Muha -Ground out to third, 5-3 = OUT
|Bottom of 5th|
|34 Saia - Walk
3 Bernay - Fly out to center = OUT
32 Jaksa - Strike out = OUT
(Bernay stolen base)
1 Navatsyk - Walk
4 LaMarca - Line out to first base = OUT
|Top of 6th|
|15 Roche - Walk
9 Rosa - Sacrifice bunt advances runner = OUT
10 Sweeney - Hit up the middle = ERROR (6), 1st & 3rd
(Sweeney stolen base, Rosa scores on throwing error)
1 Keenan - Double past third = HIT, 1 RUN
22 Brey - Ground out to third, 5-3 = OUT
32 Rivera - Strikeout = OUT
|Bottom of 6th|
|NOW PITCHING = 3 Jon Young
7 Belliveau - Single past third base = HIT
20 Frey - Ground into double play, 4-6-3 = 2 OUTS
16 Ammar - Fly out to right field, OUT
|Top of 7th|
|2 Pace - Strikeout = OUT
6 Guida - Pop out to short stop = OUT
24 Muha - Ground out to shortstop = OUT
|Bottom of 7th|
|14 Urbania - Ground out to first, 3-1 = OUT
34 Saia - Single up the middle = HIT
3 Bernay - Strikeout = OUT
PINCH-HITTER - 22 Tasis - Fly out to center = OUT
|Top of 8th|
|NOW CATCHING - Ross LaMarca
15 Roche - Ground out to second, 4-3 = OUT
9 Rosa - Single past first base = HIT
10 Sweeney - Single off the mound = HIT
1 Keenan - Single over second = HIT, 1 RUN
22 Brey - Fielder's Choice 5-4 = OUT, 1st & 3rd
PINCH-HITTER - 21 Rappleyea - Groundout to third, 5-3 = OUT
|Bottom of 8th|
|1 Navatsyk - Ground out to short, 6-3 = OUT
4 LaMarca - Strikeout = OUT
7 Belliveau - Single to third base = HIT
20 Frey - Fielder's Choice, 6-4 = OUT
|Top of 9th|
|2 Pace - Double over third = HIT
6 Guida - Sacrifice bunt advances runner = OUT
24 Muha - Fielder's Choice, 6-2-5 = OUT, 1st & 2nd
15 Roche - Fly out to center
|Bottom of 9th|
|16 Ammar - Single to Centerfield
14 Urbania - Fielder's choice 4-6 = OUT
34 Saia - Groundout 1-3 = OUT
3 - Strikeout = OUT (while up to bat, Urbania steals 3rd on a pass ball)