BSP proves to be the toughest team in state tournament’s toughest pool

Tim Sharpley Broad Street Park
Broad Street Park pitcher Tim Sharpley was “razor sharp” against Whitehouse. Sharpley picked up his 7th win of the year. Photo by Michael A. Sabo.

By Rich Fisher

July 23: Heading into New Jersey American Legion state tournament pool play, Broad Street Park appeared to be in the toughest of the two divisions.

Turns out it was tough because Post 313 was in it.

BSP completed an unlikely trifecta today when Tim Sharpley pitched Broad Street to a 4-1 victory over Whitehouse of Flemington in New Jersey American Legion Elite 8 state pool play at Moody Park.

Playing in a division with Whitehouse and Brooklawn – two of the state’s perennially best teams with large recruiting bases – Broad Street went 3-0 to clinch a spot in the semifinals. BSP will meet the loser of Tuesday’s Washington-Hopewell game at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Entering the tournament, manager Mike Petrowski hoped his team could beat Cherry Hill and then “steal one” from one of the big two.

“To beat two national powers back to back with a team that draws mostly from one school is pretty crazy,” Petrowski said. “That just shows the toughness of these kids. That’s why I really enjoy coaching these guys in the summer. You can’t teach that stuff. They don’t back down from anybody. Other teams get intimidated against Brooklawn and Flemington, it doesn’t faze these guys.”

And while two more wins are still necessary for a state title, Sharpley has felt all along BSP had this kind of run in it.

“From top to bottom I always said our offense will show up, we’re fine offensively,” he said. “But I think we have the best pitching staff. Not the best pitcher in the state, but the best staff. If we get in trouble we have a better guy coming out of the pen, we have each other’s back.”

Sharpley did not need that bullpen in putting forth a spectacular performance today. He pulled off the rare feat of pitching a complete game despite having it interrupted by a two-hour rain delay. The right-hander was outstanding for the first four innings and, after the delay, was as good if not better in the final three frames.

“I felt good,” he said. “The only time I fell behind was on fastballs that missed low.”

The MCALL Pitcher of the Year said he was going to tell Petrowski he felt good no matter what, but it turns out he really did feel up to it.

“I was gonna start it up again,” he said. “We had a guy in the pen so if I gave up one or two hits I knew it wasn’t gonna be my day, but at least I went back out to start it.”

And finish it.

Staked to a 4-0 lead, he gave up a strange run in the sixth on a bloop single that was so high in the air it allowed the runner on first to score after getting an automatic start on a 3-2 count. Sharpley finished with a 5-hitter with three strikeouts and no walks.

When play resumed, he had a 3-0 lead thanks to three runs just before the rain.

“I was scared we were gonna lose it after sitting around,” Sharply said. “I went back out there knowing they were asking for a zero, and I got it and we got right back on track.”

Sharpley got ahead 0-2 on all three batters in the fifth, getting a strikeout, fly out and ground out.

“Sharp’s not a power guy, so I wasn’t worried about him losing a bunch on his fastball,” Petrowski said. “To be honest I think he threw harder after the delay. Maybe the adrenaline kicks in a little more, who knows what it is? A lot of times you can’t figure things out in baseball, but he was tough as nails.

“You can’t get this far and go 7-0 without being tough. He probably faced the best lineup in the state. You gotta have some toughness, he pitches with a chip on his shoulder. Guys who succumb to the pressure; you can see the worry on their face, I never see that with him.”

Broad Street (23-5) gave Sharpley all he needed in the top of the fifth. Connor Luckie reached on an error and a late throw to second on Sean Elefant’s grounder put runners on first and second. Darius Land walked, and Brien Cardona was robbed of a hit but still plated a run with the ground out. Kyle Harrington followed with a two-run single to make it 3-0.

Elefant produced a big insurance run in the sixth. After loading the bases with no outs, BSP hitters struck out twice and Elefant fell behind 0-2. He worked the count to 3-2 before getting hit by a pitch to force in a run.

“When a team has bases loaded with no outs and gets out of it with no runs, that seems to spark them,” Petrowski said. “To get at least one there did kind of settle us back down. We could have gotten rattled, that was a helluva at-bat.”

BSP will now wait and see if they get Hopewell, which beat it twice in the regular season, or Washington.

“I always say it’s very hard to beat a team three times,” Petrowski said. “We probably played our C game both times against them. I know our kids are chomping at the bit if they get a chance. But we’ve played both of them, they’re both gonna be tough.”

* * *

Hamilton concluded its season with a 1-0, walk-off win over South Brunswick to finish pool play 1-2. Dom Maglione and Sean Johnson combined on the shutout and Tyler Nielsen scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh amidst an intense rain. Nielsen and Michael James each singled to start the inning – giving each two hits for the game — and moved up on Jack Hardiman’s sacrifice.

About The Author

Rich Fisher has been around the Hamilton Township sports scene for so long that he actually got Rich Giallella’s autograph when Giallella was still a player! Proud product of Hamilton YMCA and Lou Gehrig baseball leagues and former teammate of Jim Maher on a very average Barton & Cooney rec basketball team, Fish graduated from Nottingham Junior High and Steinert High school and has covered township sports since 1980. His goal in life is to convince Maria Prato that Jersey tomatoes are at least 100 times better than California tomatoes.