Jake Beyer takes off for 2nd base for against Hopewell in the MCT Semi Finals. Beyer had 3 hits in the MCT Semi Final game for the Spartans. Photo by Michael A. Sabo
By Rich Fisher
May 15: Just call it Black Monday in Hamilton Township high school baseball.
In one of the most depressing days in recent local diamond memory, Steinert and Nottingham both coughed up leads in losing their Mercer County Tournament semifinal games in eight innings at Arm & Hammer Stadium Monday night.
A year ago the two teams met in the finals, with the Spartans prevailing. This year, 3rd-seeded Nottingham let 1-0 and 2-1 leads slip in a 3-2 loss to 2nd-seeded Allentown, while top-seeded Steinert had a 5-0 advantage disappear in a 6-5 setback to 4th-seeded Hopewell Valley.
Of the two, the Spartan loss was the more shocking. After beating HoVal twice this year — once with a seventh-inning comeback and the second time with a first-inning blitzkrieg, Steinert scored five in the first two innings and it looked like “Here we go again.”
But the defending champions stopped hitting, and when they did get runners on they squandered opportunities. Hopewell got three runs in the third, one in the fourth and one in the fifth to tie it.
Dominic Maglione, who pitched fairly well, suffered the loss when he allowed a leadoff double in the eighth that eventually scored on a passed ball after he left the game.
After getting six hits in the first two innings, Steinert only got four over the final six. CJ Pittaro, Ryan Mostrangeli and Chris Cote had RBI singles and Jake Beyer, who had three hits, hit a two-run double.
The frustrating night was capped in the eighth when Steinert got two singles but had a runner picked off first and another thrown out at second after
he over-slid the bag on a steal attempt.
Nottingham did not squander a large lead but had an equally heart-breaking night as it let two one-run advantages slip.
Getting a solid outing from starter Ronnie “Baseball” Voacolo, the Northstars took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth when Brien Cardona walked, went to third on an error and scored on Tom Argiriou’s fielder’s choice.
Allentown tied it in the sixth on Jordan Winston’s RBI double. The Stars reclaimed the lead in the eight when Cardona walked, went to second on Argiriou’s single and scored on David Scott’s RBI single. It looked like it would be Scott’s scrapbook special, as he forced the eighth inning by making a diving, run-saving catch in the bottom of the seventh.
The Stars hoped to get one more in the eighth when Christian Fuentes singled, but Argiriou was thrown out at the plate by Ryan Beber.
The bottom of the eighth was bizarre, to say the least. Winston singled and scored on Ryan Huth’s double. Austin Ferrier then hit what appeared to be the game-winning double, but a player from Allentown’s dugout ran out to celebrate and interfered with the runner before Huth scored.
The ruling was the run did not count, and Ferrier was on second with one out. Pinch-hitter Frank DelGuercio made it moot when he slammed a 2-0 fastball into the outfield for the game-winner.
The loss leaves coach Jimmy Maher two wins shy of 400. Nottingham is at West Windsor-Plainsboro South Tuesday, hosts Oakhurst Friday at Veterans Park and plays Florence Saturday at the same site