Righthander Peter Landreman kept the sturdy Bloomfield lineup off-balance with an assortment of pitches and Jake Panzer chipped in with four RBI as Millburn rolled to an 8-0 victory in a Super Essex Conference game on Thursday in Millburn.
Landreman (2-0) struck out four and walked one in a five-hit shutout while stranding nine Bloomfield runners. The Bengals came into the contest at 11-2 but couldn’t seem to break through against the crafty Landreman.
“I started a little slow but knew it was all about being aggressive and getting back to throwing strikes,” said Landreman, who issued his only walk in a raggedy first inning.
Millburn (9-4) held dearly to a 1-0 lead heading into its fourth at bat when it broke the game open with a five-run inning in which Bloomfield contributed a bit to its own demise.
“Bloomfield is a good team,” said Millburn coach Brian Chapman. “They are an American Division level team. Poly does a good job and they have a nice lineup.”
That Bloomfield lineup has been rough on the smaller school Liberty Division in the SEC under the direction of coach Mike Policastro. Millburn competes in the larger school American Division.
Panzer, Millburn’s No. 6 hitter, delivered the game’s first run in the second inning, a fielder’s choice grounder to the right side that scored Jordan Brochin. Panzer guided a two-strike pitch from Bloomfield’s sophomore righthander Andre Dean the opposite way.
“One of the best things I learned from coach Chapman is that at two strikes, you have to become a team guy,” said Panzer. “You have to be calm and put the bat on the ball.”
Meanwhile Landreman did an excellent job moving his splitter, cutter and curveball around the zone and spotting his four-seam fastball. His only real trouble came in the first inning when Bloomfield loaded the bases with two outs.
Kyle Tice doubled inside the first base bag with one out and Guillo Gonzalez drew a two-out walk. Darmany Rivas then reached when his swinging third strike got away. Jon Gonzalez almost reached, too, when he hit a bouncer to third base that Jake Zirlin momentarily bobbled. Zirlin, however, recovered in time to fire across to first base to get the third out by an eyelash.
It was that kind of game for the Bengals.
The Millburn fourth inning began with a single by the Millers’ No. 3 hitter Ben Chrzanowski, a senior who was the closer and third baseman on the team’s NJSIAA Group 4 championship team in 2017. Brochin was then brushed by an inside curveball by Dean and up stepped Panzer.
This time Panzer didn’t wait to get into a two-strike hole. He ripped a double into the left-center field gap to chase Chrzanowski home and send Brochin to third.
The Millburn lead was just 2-0 but the inning deteriorated from there for Bloomfield. Dean, who showed plenty of ability, especially with a curveball that had handcuffed Millburn, plunked Matthew Hollender to load the bases. Matthew Chan then hit a slow bouncer to the left side that scored Brochin as shortstop Vincent Torrisi alertly took the force-out at third base.
A two run inning ballooned to a five-run inning, though, when Jake Delidow reached on an infield error that brought two runs home and leadoff batter Ben Sinins followed with an RBI single to cap the rally. Panzer would stroke a two-run single in the fifth to lift the Millburn lead to 8-0.
“Jake is a senior and has bided his time,” said Chapman about Panzer. “He was in and out of the lineup last year and wasn’t always confident at the plate. He’s a different player this season. He’s had incredible at bats. He’s such a rock in the six-hole.
Sinins, by the way, has been converted from right field to catcher and has been terrific. He caught a Bloomfield runner attempting to steal in the fifth inning.
Chapman, in fact, has exploited the team concept to the nth degree in devising a lineup. He has moved his four returning starters to new positions to accommodate the four new starters and benefit the team defensively.
“We’ve had real team-oriented changes and it’s helped to bring things together,” said Chapman.
The other returnees who changed positions for Millburn this year are Chrzanowski (3B to 1B), Brochin (1B to OF) and Oren Abbot (1B/RF to CF). Chrzanowski is Millburn’s ace. Landreman falls in, probably, at No. 3 behind the lefty Abbott, a Duke commit.
That said Chapman has been taken with Landreman’s performance this season. “He has four pitches he spots and gives you a lot of different looks,” said Chapman. “He has good command and is poised out there. He’s an old school high school pitcher. He throws like 82, doesn’t strike out many but doesn’t walk anyone either. He’s tough.”
NOTES: Just five of the eight runs Dean permitted over five innings were earned. He struck out six, walked one and hit three batters. … Bloomfield’s center fielder Christian Parisi fielded his position well, chasing down a couple tough fly balls. He also was 3-for-3 with a trio of singles. … Bengals third baseman Guillo Gonzalez made a nice catch behind the bag on a tough, sky-high fly ball hit by Abbott in the third inning. … Brochin had a double, single, hit by a pitch and scored three runs in three trips to the plate. … Millburn is 4-3 in the SEC American, trailing first place Nutley (7-1), No. 8 in the NJ.com Top 20, and second place Seton Hall Prep (6-1). Bloomfield is 7-1 in the SEC Liberty, leading second place Verona (5-3) and Caldwell (5-3) by two games.