By Ryan Wydra
The Jackson Memorial Jaguars won their 12th straight game, coming back from a 5-0 deficit, scoring 7 unanswered runs to defeat the Wall Crimson Knights 7-5. The Jaguars will advance to the semifianls of the Shore Conference Tournament, where they will face Red Bank Catholic on May 27. Jackson Memorial improved to 21-5 on the season. Coach Frank Malta also picked up career win 299. He will have the opportunity for 300 in the Central Jersey Group IV State Tournament tomorrow.
Wall came into the game after losing a heartbreaker to CBA in the MCT Championship game. The Knights were looking to get off to a good start and they did just that. Jackson pitcher Dylan Kanner walked lead off hitter Nick Martinez, and gave up singles to Brendan Barcas and Dan Wondrack. This would set the stage for Regan Dombroski as he ripped the first Grand Slam of his high school career. Just like that, Jackson found themselves in a 5-0 hole.
Jackson starting pitcher Dylan Kanner left the game and was replaced by Jim Plaganis after just 1 inning of work. Kanner gave up 5 runs, and was all the way up to 40 pitches.
Jackson Memorial would answer right back. The bats had been cooling off recently, but this lineup proved they could come right back. Kyle Johnson hit a solo home run in the 1st on a 2-2 pitch, to put the Jaguars on the board.
Matt Crispe followed that up with a solo home run to left field in the 2nd. Crispe has been very consistent for the Jaguars as of late.
Jackson Memorial would also get a big 3rd inning as Kyle Lona, and Kyle Johnson both singled. 1 run would score on a balk, and Chris Hawrlyk would hit an RBI single. Before you knew it, Jackson Memorial was within 1 run. Wall’s lead was cut to 5-4 and they would need to answer fast.
The 6th inning would be the turning point in the game for the Jaguars. Rich Rountree hit a line drive into left field, and got to 1st after an error from the Knights. Joe DeMaio came in, and bunted Rountree to 2nd, which would set the stage for Nick Rocco. Rocco stepped to the plate, and ripped an RBI single into center field. Rountree would use his speed to run two bases and tie the game at 5.
At this point, Wall pulled starting pitcher Matt Yard. Yard had 3 strikeouts in 6 innings, and threw 80 pitches in the game. It would be up to Metalski to give his team an opportunity in the 7th.
Kyle Johnson would have other ideas. He was already hot at the plate after ripping a solo home run in the 1st. The Jaguars clearly needed Johnson to execute to keep their SCT dreams alive. The count would advance to 3-2, and everyone could sense the nervousness in the house. Matelski was either going to keep Wall in the drivers seat, or Johhnson was going win the battle. However, it was Kyle Johnson who stepped into the pitch and blasted the game winning 2 RBI double. Johnson once again put the team on his back, as he has done time and time again. Jackson Memorial would take a 7-5 lead, and were three outs away from advancing in the SCT!
Wall once again would create an opportunity for themselves. Both Nick Martinez, and Brendan Barcas hit late singles to put Dan Wondrack in a great position. Wondrack has been a monster hitter for Wall down the stretch, but this time it would not go his way. Wondrack would hit right into a double play and just like that, Wall’s season was on life support. Ryan Orender would ground out, and Jackson Memorial was moving on in the SCT.
Just like we saw in the MCT title game, Wall continued to miss opportunities and leave base runners on the field. There were three different times Wall could have scored more runs in this game. When it comes to winning big games, the team that executes the most is victorious. That’s what Jackson Memorial was able to do.
Jim Plaganis picked up the win, throwing 6 innings, and finishing with three strikeouts, and giving up no runs for the Jaguars.
Kyle Johnson finished 3/4 with a solo home run in the 1st, and the game winning 2 RBI double in the 6th. Johnson once again was clutch for the Jaguars in a big game.
Matt Crispe continued his offensive surge, hitting a solo home run in the 2nd to help pace Jackson Memorial’s offensive attack. Crispe was the hero of the Ocean County Title Game.
Jackson Memorial advances to play Red Bank Catholic at Count Basie Field on May 27 in the Shore Conference Tournament Final Four. The Jaguars will have no time to rest as they get set to host Hillsborough in the second round of the Central Jersey Group IV State Tournament tomorrow.
SS Brandon Janofsky left the game and was replaced by Matt Castronuova in the 2nd. Janofsky has an injury to his forearm and is listed as day to day for upcoming games. Janofsky has been lights out as a pitcher for Jackson Memorial all year.
SCT Final Four Recap
Manasquan 6, Shore 5
Marc Galvan picked up the win in relief, coming into the game in the 6th. Tyler Bradley had a dominating performance, hitting a 2 RBI single to pace Manasquan to a 6-5 victory over rival Shore Regional. Tanner Cowley also ripped a solo home run in the game. Max Hawkins finished 2/3 with 2 runs scored, and Ty Hawkins was 2/4 with a double.
CBA 6, Middletown South 5
The Colts came all the way back from a 5-1 deficit to beat the Eagles to advance to the SCT Final Four. CBA once again experienced some Martorano Magic, as Brandon finished off MS with a walk off RBI single in the 8th. Martorano also hit 2 Home Runs in the 7th to cap off what his been an amazing week for the young star. They may put a statue of him on Route 520. Ken Campbell also picked up the win in relief for the Colts.
Red Bank Catholic 16, Colts Neck 8
The Caseys ripped off 7 runs in the 7th inning to stun No 1 seeded Colts Neck in the SCT Quarterfinals. The Cougars came back to cut the RBC lead to 9-8, but RBC would not open the door. Anthony DeRosa finished 3/5 with 2 runs scored. Mike Spinelli was 2/2 with a triple, double, and an RBI. RBC will gear up to face OCT Champion Jackson Memorial in the Final Four.
The SCT semifinals are set for May 27 as 4 seeded Jackson Memorial takes on 8 seeded Red Bank Catholic, and 3 seeded CBA will play 15 seeded Manasquan.