New Brunswick Advances To Nightcap
August 10, 2012 -
The New Brunswick Matrix scored early on the Michigan Rams and kept the Livonian hits scattered to avoid a big inning, earning a spot in the Friday evening game against Cleveland.
Matrix Hold Early Lead
New Brunswick took a three-run lead after two innings before the Rams were able to get on the board. Matrix starter Dan Hansen hit batter Matt Priebe with the bases loaded to force in a run, but the Rams left the batters on base. Hansen then retired the side in the order in the fourth with one strike out and a caught stealing.
"A tremendous start," said New Brunswick manager Glenn Fredericks of Hansen. "We knew we were going to get a great from him like we always do. He threw it and kept the ball down. Every time Danny goes to the mound, he gives us a chance to win and today was no different."
New Brunswick Adds Needed Insurance
In the bottom of the fifth, the Rams started with a great diving grab by second baseman Brandon Katta to put out Cody Pace. Jon Guida flew out for the second out, but a walk to Mike Muha prompted a pitching change, putting Justin Hicks on the mound. He allowed a run-scoring double off the left-field screen to Mitchel Patterson, but retired Anderson Rosa to end the inning with the Matrix up 4-1.
The Rams threatened in the sixth as Priebe led off with a single and advanced to second on Miles Sorise's sacrifice bunt. Unfortunately for the Rams, Zachary Zott lined out to first baseman Muha who doubled-off Priebe at second for the third out.
Pivotal Moment in the Seventh
Hicks retired the Matrix in order in the bottom of the sixth to give Livonia momentum headed into the seventh. With one out, James Patrick Maracani singled past the shortstop, and Patterson laid down a perfect bunt that rolled along the foul line to third base. With 2 on and 1 out and the top of the order at the plate, Trent Drumeller doubled to far left field to score Maracani and Patterson. However, Patterson was ruled out on appeal for missing third base. Instead of a potentially big inning, the Rams had to settle with a 4-2 deficit.
In the top of the eighth, Nick Marics was brought in to pitch for New Brunswick. He got a ground-out from Garrett Gordon and a broken-bat ground-out from Priebe. Sorise had a two-out hit to centerfield, but Zott's pop out left him stranded. Justin Hicks retired the Matrix in order in the bottom of the inning with one strike out.
Final Chance for Rams
In the top of the ninth, it was more than just the hot weather making the Matrix sweat. Marics struck out Logan Curtis to lead off the inning, but Maracani doubled to center field and Patterson's single scored him to make it a one-run game.
"Granted, he missed third [in the seventh], but he had a hot bat today," said Livonia manager Rick Berryman of Patterson. "He lays down the perfect bunt, and he gets the hit up the middle to extend the inning and to make it 4 to 3. He didn't give up on himself and in the ninth inning he came up with another big hit.
Drumheller hit the ball to second base, but the Matrix could not turn the double play, which gave the Rams another chance to tie the game. Brandon Katta blooped a single past second base to put runners on the corners, but Gordon grounded out to first to end the game. The final out was controversial as the Rams protested that the play was made in foul territory and should have been a foul ball.
"There were two key parts there: they took an early lead and they did a nice job, but missing third was pivotal," explain Berryman. "Nobody outplayed us; we just ran out of innings." The loss eliminates the Rams after a wild and memorable season. They won their final two regular season games to force a one-game playoff for the right to represent the franchise in the AAABA. They then swept the Zanesville Regional to advance to Johnstown and lasted until the final rounds.
New Brunswick advances to their 2nd championship game in 4 years, but will need to win two more times to claim their franchise's first championship.
"I think that--other than the first two innings against Cleveland--we've played fantastic baseball the whole way," said Fredericks.