William Shraft of In The Zone 2 holds on Evan Adinolfe of Hillsborough Sr. in Fall League game last night.
Luke Crawford swung the productive bat and three pitchers stifled the In The Zone 2 lineup as Hillborough Sr. rolled to a 9-0 victory in Diamond Nation’s High School Fall League last night in Flemington.
Crawford tripled and drove in two runs with a pair of sac flies to steer the Hillsborough Sr. offense while Jayden Bloch, Rocco Viscel and Ronak Parikh combined on the shutout.
Second place Hillsborough Sr. improved to 10-2 with two games remaining in the Fall League’s regular season. Whitehouse Post 284, with a win and a tie last night, holds on to first place in the standings at 11-0-1. Whitehouse owns a 6-1 victory over Hillsborough Sr. on Oct. 1 and the two top teams meet next Thursday in the final game of the season. The playoffs follow the following week.
The righthander Bloch set the tone for the Hillsborough Sr. pitchers with three ultra efficient innings to begin the game. Bloch permitted just one base runner, In The Zone’s Derek Fuls, who beat out an infield single on a slow bouncer to the right side with one out in the third. Bloch struck out six and walked none and faced the minimum nine batters. He picked off Fuls at first base for the second out of the third inning.
“Bloch threw real well,” said Hillsborough Sr. coach Dylan Zebro. “He was pounding the zone. He didn’t miss. He had the mindset coming in that he was going to attack.”
Hillsborough Sr. didn’t score in the bottom of the first inning but Crawford, the No. 3 hitter, made some big noise with a long two-out triple into the left-center field gap. In The Zone starter Brendan Bruun got out of the inning, though, when he got Bloch on a comebacker.
“I knew he’d throw me a fastball in a 3-1 count,” said Crawford. “So I was looking for it and jumped on it.”
Jack Roteman, the Hillsborough Sr. catcher, put his team on the board in the second inning when he laced a two-run single through the middle of the diamond. J.T. Losch was hit by a pitch with one out and Kyle Elmalis drew a walk. Bruun then balked both runners into scoring position to set up Roteman’s RBI opportunity.
Hillsborough Sr. would break it open in the third courtesy of three hits and some good situational hitting.
Ryan Hvozdovic, Hillsborough Sr.’s leadoff hitter, opened the inning on the right foot by drawing a walk. Hvozdovic moved to second on an errant pickoff attempt and took third on Vinny Versaci’s perfect sacrifice bunt to the right side. That brought Crawford up looking to barrel another one up and he did, launching a deep enough fly to center field to enable Hvozdovic to score from third and extend the lead to 3-0.
“I’m just trying to get the runner in and do what I can for the team in that spot,” said Crawford.
Zebro had no doubt Crawford would produce. “I’m always confident Luke will get the job done when we have runners in scoring position,” said Zebro, a 2011 Hillsborough grad. Production would come from much of the rest of Zebro’s lineup, too.
Block drew a walk and was quickly chased to third base by Owen Bartolomeo’s double to right field. Bartolomeo hit a shot over the head of the right fielder to put Hillsborough Sr. back in business with two outs. Losch then hit what amounted to a lofted wedge into shallow center field that no one took charge on and it dropped for a single. Bloch and Bartolomeo, on the move with two outs, raced home with the fourth and fifth runs. And Losch took second on the throw home Elmalis followed with a single through the middle to score Losch, cap the rally and extend the Hillsborough Sr. lead to 6-0.
Kiscel relieved and pitched a 1-2-3 fourth inning, striking out the first two batters of the frame. Hillsborough Sr. would then go about setting itself up for a mercy rule victory by scoring three more runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Kiscel, by the way, returned recently from major shoulder surgery due to a torn labrum. “He looks real good and is doing a nice job getting back to full strength for the spring,” said Zebro.
Evan Adinolfe drew a one-out walk to start the rally in the fourth, flipping the lineup back to the top. Hvozdovic then ripped a double down the right field line and Versaci walked to load the bases for Crawford. This time the Hillsborough Sr. shortstop barreled one up to fairly deep right field that brought Adinolfe home from third for a 7-0 lead. Block drew a walk to reload the bases before Bartolomeo’s slow bouncer to the left side was thrown away, allowing two runs to score and boost the lead to 9-0.
In The Zone showed some life in the top of the fifth, facing a loss via the 8-run mercy rule. Matt Visser, the In The Zone leadoff batter, opened with a hard single to left field, the hardest struck ball of the game for his team. But Kiscel struck out the next batter. Logan Heyer then hit a slow roller in front of Kiscel who fielded it cleanly but threw it wildly to first base. That allowed Heyer to reach and Visser to race all the way to third base.
Zebro, looking to get Parikh some work, brought in the lefty expecting to see him pitch to at least two batters. While Zebro got the desired result, he didn’t get the desired length out of Parikh, who threw just one pitch and induced a game-ending 4-6-3 double play that second baseman Elmalis and shortstop Crawford spun perfectly.
“Yes, that was unfortunate Parikh threw just one pitch because I wanted to get him work, but he did his job,” said Zebro.
Crawford also plays for the Diamond Jacks Super 17 2021 squad through the year and is currently competing with Super 17 in the Garden State Scout League. “I have a game every day this week,” said Crawford, smiling as if he’d hit the lottery.