SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Summit starting pitcher Sean Guida did nothing but smile as he walked off the South Plainfield High School baseball field on Monday.
The Hilltoppers senior pitcher, in the biggest outing of his career, threw the game of his life, to lead Summit to a 2-0 thriller over South Plainfield, in the opening round of the North Jersey 2, Group 3 state tournament.
Guida allowed no runs on two hits over 6.1 innings, shutting down South Plainfield’s powerful heart of the lineup to send the Hilltoppers into a second round date in Mendham on Thursday.
Summit head coach Kevin Zaleski had only one word to describe his veteran pitcher’s performance.
“Incredible,” Zaleski said. “He really stepped for us in a big game. He got the job done.”
Guida’s teammates had his back early on, scratching a run off South Plainfield starter Jake Alba in the top of the first. Kyle Brown opened the frame with an infield dribbler that barely reached and skimmed third base. After stealing second and advancing to third on a Guida ground out, Cam Fiotti drove Brown in with a single.
The lone run proved to be the only one Guida would need.
After allowing back-to-back walks to open the game, Summit’s starter allowed only five more Tigers to reach base during the game.
“He has been struggling occasionally with his location, his pitch count getting up there,” Zaleski said. “He had a typical first inning, where he lets the first two on then shuts the door on the next guys. He was lights out from there. He did his job for us. Two [runs] was plenty for him.”
South Plainfield’s powerful trio of Aidan McDermott, Justin Marks and Rob Eggert combined to go 1-for-8 in the game. McDermott, who will play ball for St. John’s next year, had two opportunities to tie the contest early, but came up unsuccessful.
Guida said McDermott didn’t intimidate him on mound because he came into the game trying not to “overthink” the opponent.
“I handled him like I didn’t know who he was,” Guida said. “When you face kids like him, you can’t overthink it because you’re going to leave it over the plate and he’s going to jack it.”
Leading by one in the fourth, Summit added a run off Alba when Dan Beradi scored on a Hunter Miller groundout. The Hilltoppers were on the verge of adding another run when Brown hit a single to right field, however he was thrown out at first after taking a big turn seconds before Miller crossed home plate.
Guida did not let the play come back to bite Summit. He recorded the next nine outs almost unfazed. After allowing his first hit in the bottom of the sixth, Guida quickly induced a 4-6-3 double play to take away a potential South Plainfield threat.
Despite trailing by two, the Tigers did not go away quietly in the seventh. South Plainfield put runners on second and third with one out, however John Floegel came in to close the door for the Hilltoppers.
Floegel retired the only two batters he faced, Mike Polizzano and L.J. Scarpitto, to seal Guida’s statement win.
“The guys are excited,” Zaleski said. “There was a confidence throughout them today that we haven’t really seen. Hopefully we got all the little jitters out and now we attack the second round with it. This is a good stepping stone for that.”