McLaughlin, Cipparulo lead Hillsborough Cardinal to Fall playoff win

By DN WRITING STAFF | October 31, 2023

NJ Jays 16U National catcher David Hudock records out at plate in Fall League playoffs.

By Sean Reilly 

Hillsborough Cardinal pitcher Jack McLaughlin was making his final start of 2023 on Monday night at Diamond Nation. 

The left-hander obviously wanted to make the most of the assignment, and he succeeded on every level possible.

McLaughlin threw an efficient four-inning one-hitter, with four strikeouts and no walks, as the Hillsborough Cardinal beat the NJ Jays 16U National, 10-0, in a Fall League first-round playoff game in Flemington. 

Peter Cipparulo led the hitting charge for Hillsborough Cardinal by going 2-for-3 and driving in the first three runs, including a two-run double that launched a nine-run second inning. 

The victory earned Hillsborough Cardinal (10-5)  a quarterfinal matchup against Montgomery Superior (11-3) on Wednesday at 6 p.m. on Field 7. 

McLaughlin was in control right through to his final pitch, a breaking ball that froze a batter for a called third strike that ended the game via the mercy rule. 

“This was my last outing of the season,” he said. “I just wanted to go out and do a good job. My fastball was good, and after the first inning, my curve ball was good. I was pounding the zone, I got a lead to work with, and it was just smooth sailing. It felt good tonight.” 

Hillsborough Cardinal scored once in the first inning before its explosion in the second. 

Logan Raghunath led off the first with a single to center field, stole second and scored on a hit to center by Cipparulo.

Logan Raghunath of Hillsborough Cardinal rounds third before scoring on single by Peter Cipparulo.

The second inning began with walks to Garrett Herndon and Jason Williams. After a fly out to center field, they both scored when Cipparulo doubled to left center.

“We were attacking fastballs and hitting the ball hard,” Cipparulo said. “This is it until next season starts, so we want to go out on a good note and get ready for next year.”

The next batter was J.J. Lotierzo, who singled by beating the covering pitcher to first base after hitting a grounder to the right side of the infield. 

Lotierzo stole second to put runners on second and third, and Max Romanok responded with a two-run single to center. He took second on a throw. 

A walk to Alex Orr was followed by the second out of the inning. Krish Patel then hit a two-run double to left field for a 7-0 lead. 

Herndon followed with an RBI single to center, and after a single to right field by Williams, both scored on a two-run single to right field by Raghunath for the 10-0 lead.

McLaughlin, meanwhile, was in complete control. He allowed just one batter to reach base, which came when Cole Jacobus singled to center with two out in the second inning for NJ Jays 16U National (3-12). 

The strikeout pitch he threw to the last batter represented the ideal way to head into the offseason, which will start with a couple months off before resuming training for the start of the 2024 campaign in March. 

“I’ll have some time off before I get back to it,” he said. “I’ll take a break to rest my arm, and start throwing again in January to get ready for the spring season. This was a great way to head into it.”

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