North Hamilton pitcher Zach Given delivers to the plate against Princeton. Photo by Michael A. Sabo
By Rich Fisher
July 9: With four games to be played over the next three days, North Hamilton’s pitching has been stretched to the absolute limit.
And while there was little to celebrate after tonight’s 5-2 loss to visiting Princeton, there was a positive to point to – the relief pitching of Zach Given and Matt Swiezkowski.
“Given and Swiezkowski did a great job giving us innings in this ballgame,” manager Matt Maher said. “They knew that the next four days we have no pitching left. We used all our bullets.”
North Hamilton (10-8) has done an admirable job of getting back into the hunt for a district playoff berth, and can still control its fate by winning its final four games. But with so many games backed up at season’s end, the Hibernians used all its starters in forging a five-game winning streak.
After Princeton took a 2-0 lead three batters into the game, Given entered to pitch four solid innings and Swiezkowski threw 2.1 strong frames.
After Post 76 took its quick lead, North Hamilton tied it in the fourth when Jack Parker and Phil Rojek singled with two outs, and Bryce Fremgen unloaded a two-run double to the fence in right field.
But the Hibos squandered several other scoring opportunities, leaving 10 runners on base and getting called out on strikes seven times.
“We know our offense has to carry us,” said Maher, whose team scored 21 runs in a doubleheader sweep of Allentown Sunday. “It did yesterday, unfortunately, it didn’t come today. It’s no help when you’re starting pitcher doesn’t get out of the first inning and you’re behind and trying to dig yourself out. Their kid (Chris Murdock) is probably one of the top three or four pitchers in the league.”
North Hamilton now trails South Brunswick and Bordentown, who are both 13-8, in the battle for the fifth and final district spot. If all three teams win out, the Hibos own the tiebreaker against each.
North Hamilton plays at West Windsor in the completion of a suspended game Tuesday, and then a regularly scheduled game after that. It hosts league-leading Hopewell Wednesday and cellar-dwelling Trenton Thursday. South Brunswick concludes its season against Broad Street Park Tuesday at DeMeo Field, and Bordentown concludes Thursday by resuming a suspended game at Hamilton that is tied in the eighth inning.
Broad Street Park was eliminated from a shot at winning the regular-season title with a 6-2 loss to Allentown tonight. Hopewell also lost, but the best BSP can do is tie, and Post 339 holds the tie-breaker by beating Broad Street twice.