Lonergan, Kenney, Prial help NJ Giants forge tie with Titans

By Bob Behre | August 4, 2021

Louis Pizzileo of the Long Island Titans gets out in front of a pitch on Wednesday.

Brandon Kenney threaded a single through the left side with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning to score courtesy runner Dan Eitner from third and draw the NJ Giants into a 3-3 tie with the Long Island Titans (Houghton).

Both teams got a runner aboard in the seventh but failed to score the go-ahead run as the 17/18U Blue Chip Prospects game ended in a tie at Diamond Nation on Wednesday.

Both starting pitchers did an excellent job containing the opposing lineup in a game no team led by more than a single run at any point. Titans righthander Devin Carros limited the Giants to three runs on four hits over six innings. He struck out four, walked one and hit a batter. Giants righty Aidan Cochran also surrendered three runs but over five innings on just two hits. He struck out two, walked three and hit three batters as he was working his breaking ball in on the hands.

The Titans had struck for two runs in top of the fifth inning with the help of two Giants errors to retake the lead at 3-2. Nick Amendolara led off and reached on an infield error. He moved to third base on a pair of ground ball outs and scored on a throwing error to tie the game at 2-2. Cochran, who should have been out of the inning clean, then walked Quintin Vizza and plunked John Tardino to load the bases and bring up cleanup hitter Trey McGowan.

McGowan hit a slow bouncer to shortstop and beat it out for an infield single as Tyler Margolis crossed the plate with the go-ahead run. Vizza kept coming around third from second base and tried to catch the Giants napping and score. But first baseman Kenney was on to it and fired home to catcher Quinn Longergan, who applied the tag to end the inning.

Dan Eitner crosses the plate with the tying run in the sixth inning for the NJ Giants.

The Titans manufactured a run in the top of the first after Vizza drew a one-out walk. He then stole second and reached third on Tardino’s single to left field. McGowan then hit a bouncer to the right side that brought Vizza home for a 1-0 lead. McGowan also reached when Cochran was slow getting to the bag to cover. The righty, however, struck out the next batter to get out of further trouble.

The Giants answered with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning after Lonergan triggered things with a one-out double down the left field line. He moved to third on Cochran’s bouncer to the left side and scored on a wild pitch with two outs and Maddox Stern at the plate.

Lonergan, a rising senior at Brearley High in Kenilworth, had the double and a single and his courtesy runners scored two of the Giants’ three runs.

“I’m always thinking middle away,” said Lonergan. “My high school coach stresses that. I just want to keep it simple and go with the pitch. Putting the bat on the ball makes it a simple game.” Lonergan certainly did that this past spring, batting .450 as a junior for Brearly.

Lonergan also shows proficiency behind the plate and a strong arm. He threw out 18 would-be base stealers during his high school season.

“I love catching,” he said. “You’re always involved. You’re the captain in the field and everyone has to listen to you. My dad was a catcher and he turned me on to it.”

Scott Schroeder almost single-handedly put the Giants in front in the third. The second baseman from Livingston High drew a leadoff walk and promptly stole second base. Schroeder advanced to third on a wild pitch with leadoff man Gil Prial batting with one out. Prial then hit a bouncer to the left side that easily scored Schroeder from third for a 2-1 lead.

Both teams had life in the seventh but could not deliver the winning run.

Lopez relieved Cochran after five innings and retired the Titans in the sixth on three straight groundouts. He struck out the first two batters of the seventh before surrendering a walk to Chris Picarella and Margolis’ single to right field. But Schroeder snared Vizza’s bouncer in the middle of the diamond and quickly tossed it to Stern to get the forceout by an eyelash to end the threat.

Quinn Lonergan of the NJ Giants sees something he likes in sixth inning against the L.I. Titans.

The Giants got an ideal start to the bottom of the seventh when Lopez beat out a slow grounder to the right side. But Eitner failed to get the bunt down and popped it up to the pitcher, reliever Patrick Mattia. The Giants tried to pull off a delayed steal to get Lopez into scoring position but Titans catcher Amendolara wasn’t having it and gunned him down for the second out. Sean Mulligan drew a walk to give Schroeder another turn, but Amendolara caught Mulligan attempting to steal, too, to end the game.

“We are better than we played today,” said NJ Giants coach Jim LaRose. “It’s showcase baseball, so you don’t want to make mistakes and we made a few.”

The Long Island Titans fell to 1-0-1 in the Blue Chip Prospects and have outscored their opponents 5-4. The NJ Giants are 0-1-1 and have been outscored 5-3.

NOTES: The Giants’ right fielder and relief pitcher Jake Lopez is a rising junior at Ramapo High in Wyckoff and a nice looking athlete. He doesn’t get his ability from the wilderness. Jake’s grandfather, Arturo Lopez, played one major league season for the Yankees in 1965 when he was the team’s backup center fielder behind Mickey Mantle. Lopez had his greatest success in Japan where he played six seasons. He batted .290, hit 116 home runs and, in 1968, made the Nippon Professional Baseball All-Star Team. Arturo, a native of Puerto Rico, is now 84.

… Scott Schroeder’s appearance at second base for the NJ Giants was a pleasant reminder of his dad, Scott, who was an All-State catcher at Livingston High. This writer was somehow present to witness that as well. We are suggesting time travel here as the only possibility. Scott, Sr. is now an assistant coach at Morristown Beard, which reached the NJSIAA Non-Public B final this spring. He was also the head coach at his alma mater, Livingston, for several years. The young Schroeder missed his 2021 high school season with a broken leg but appears to have bounced back nicely and will be ready to go for his senior year.

…Gil Prial, a rising senior at Caldwell High, made the kind of diving catch you simply don’t see often at this level. Prial robbed Evan Hughes of at least a double and an RBI in the fourth inning when he sped into right-center field, went flat out and snared the nugget in the webbing of his glove. … NJ Giants coach Jim LaRose is an assistant baseball and football coach at Bergen Catholic High in Oradell.

L.I. Titans’ Evan Hughes zones in on a pitch against the NJ Giants in the Blue Chip Prospects.
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