Kyle Gerace pitched a complete game, striking out 13 batters, and only giving up 4 hits, to lead the Mainland Mustangs past the Toms River South Indians 1-0 in the SJ Group III Semifinal. Gerace was as clutch as he could get, winning a tough pitching duel against Indians ace Trevor Wagner.
Gerace wasted no time, working right through the top of the Indians order, retiring the first six batters of the game. TRS did not get a hit until Trevor Wagner hit a third inning double. Gerace was still able to take down the next two batters and end the threat.
Toms River South ace Trevor Wagner also turned in a great performance on Friday, finishing with 8 strikeouts in over 5 innings. Wagner retired the first five Mainland batters, before giving up a single to Tyler Wray.
Mainland scores their only run of the game in the third inning. Nick Drobobiku hit a line drive double into left field, and Wagner walked Matt McLaughlin. Jack Leofflad went with a sacrifice bunt that drove in Drobobiku from third. This would give Mainland the 1-0 lead that they would never give up.
Toms River South would not give up easily. Wagner was replaced in the sixth after walking Jack Leofflad. Coach Ken Frank would go to Ray Ligouri. Ligouri struck out the next three batters to give his team a final opportunity in the seventh to plate a run.
Kyle Gerace would give up a center field base hit to Anthony Carfora in the seventh. Jake Ryan would also get on for the Indians after a fielding error. All of a sudden, Toms River South had two runners on with only one out, but it was Gerace who would be the hero of the day, working out of the jam.
Gerace would face the always dependable Ray Ligouri in the big spot. It was Ligouri who recently hit a Grand Slam in the second round playoff game against Triton. This time, it was Gerace who would not let such heroics happen. He took command of the mound, and struck out Ligouri and finally Spencer Kapp to seal the deal for the Mustangs.
Mainland will head to the SJ Group III Championship Game for the second year in a row. They will host Delsea on Friday, and have the chance to defend their title. Kyle Gerace will have three days rest, and could possibly see some action in that game. Mainland will need to get big hits from Tyler Wray and Nick Trifiletti to get the offense going.
Friday State Playoff Scoreboard
Shore Regional 3 Florence 2
Robbinsville 4 Cinnaminson 0
Gov. Livingston 12 Matawan 2
North Burlington 5 Middletown South 1
Old Bridge 3 Jackson Memorial* 2 (13)
Ramsey 5 Pequannock 2
Ashton Bardzell hit his 18th home run of the season for Ramsey, tying him with NJ legend Mike Trout. He will try to break the record when his team plays for the North Jersey 1, Group 2 title on Friday at Lakeland. His home run can be seen here, courtesy of NJ.com- http://highschoolsports.nj.com/news/article/8094674449861744600/ramseys-ashton-bardzell-ties-mike-trouts-nj-single-season-hr-record/
Cranford 5 West Essex 1
Cherokee 9 Eastern 5
CBA* 4 St. Augustine 3
Bishop Eustace 5 RBC* 1
* Will play tomorrow in Shore Conference Tournament semifinals.
Regular Season- Southern 2 Pinelands 1