Zoom/Pride first baseman Alex Argabright stands in at the dish. The combined team won 7-6.
By Will Harrigan
When midweek tournaments are held late in the summer, high school fall sports and family vacations kick in, and as a result, roster changes are typical.
Take a look at the NJ Pride and Zoom baseball programs, which merged together for the Super 16 Top 25 Tournament this week at Diamond Nation.
As a result, Cherry Hill West rising junior Grant Fournier got to play with a mostly new set of teammates on Monday, and made quite a strong first impression.
Fournier’s blast proved to be the game winner, as NJ Pride/Zoom notched a 7-6 victory over PS2 Academy in Top 25 action on Monday afternoon.
With the victory, Pride/Zoom finished off its day – and pool play – with a 2-0 record, and should garner a top four seed for tomorrow’s playoff round.
PS2 Academy finished at 0-2, but its -2 run differential (7-9) through two games could allow them to sneak in a playoff spot. Only two of the 16 entrants in the field will not advance to the playoffs.
Fournier’s two-run lift off to right field, in what was a 5-2 game at the time, ultimately proved to be decisive after a late PS2 rally came up just short.
“We had a runner on first, and I told him before my at bat that if I get a fastball, I’m going to drive one far. I got one on the first pitch,” said Fournier, who is uncommitted but has interest from numerous Division I schools.
Pride/Zoom – featuring players from various successful South Jersey high school programs – wasted little time getting off to a strong start.
Chris Ahrens drew a free pass to start the bottom of the first, and quickly stole second to reach scoring position. A deep fly out to center by Fournier moved Ahrens to third, allowing Luke Guire to drive in the game’s first run by grounding out to first.
PS2 Academy’s Matt Caruso leads off first base.
Pride/Zoom would build on its lead in the second, as Josue Holloway and Anthony Lucarelli reached base via an error and base hit, respectively, setting the table for nine-batter Alex Argabright.
Argabright took advantage, belting a triple deep to right-center to score two and run the lead up to 3-0. Ahrens would promptly drive in Argabright for the fourth run with a sacrifice fly to center.
A two run double by PS2’s Matt Caruso in the fourth cut the deficit to 5-2, but Fournier’s shot quickly put the Bergen County-based squad back in a five-run hole.
Two walks, a costly error, and a pair of wild pitches in the sixth allowed Passaic Tech standout Freddy Stansfield and Caruso to score, trimming the gap to 7-4.
An RBI double by Lucas Silva and a double error allowed PS2 Academy to creep to within 7-6 with only one out in the seventh. But Pride/Zoom reliever Matthew Marino came on to close out the game, inducing a grounder and fly out to right.
Pride/Zoom will look to have its makeshift team advance further in the playoffs on Tuesday.
“I think this is everyone’s last summer tournament, so we want to make the most of it and try and get as far as we can,” Fournier said. “Today might be my last day playing this summer, we’ll see.”