RANDOLPH, NJ- Randolph Boys Baseball ran up against the hard luck Par-Hills Vikings in the second round of the Morris County Tournament on Friday at home, and manufactured their own bad luck, as 5 errors sunk the Rams 5-3. Clutch hits from James Bertelle and Matt Vicaro kept the Rams in the game, but the balls kept falling for Par-Hills, the 22nd seed, as they eliminated Randolph.
Down three runs in the 2nd, Randolph struggled to figure out Par-Hills pitcher Nicholas D'Uva, who showed excellent command, walking one and pitching to contact, striking out two over 7 innings. In the 5th inning, second baseman Matt Vicaro came through with a two out single through the left side, scoring Andrew Hafner and David Sacco to make it 3-2.
“I just went up there with confidence. I knew what he was bringing,” said Vicaro after the game. “It was a full count, and he threw me 2 balls in a row, so I automatically knew he was coming back with a fastball.”
But Par-Hills would answer in the 6th as Rams pitcher Sean Sullivan exited, and the Vikings got a run off of James Bertelle to go up 4-2. Bertelle grabbed that run back all by himself when he led off the bottom half of the 6th with a solo shot to left, cutting into the lead, 4-3. The Vikings answered again in the 7th to go up 5-3, and D'Uva capped off his stellar night, striking out Jake Ryan looking to end the game. J.D Keyes and Tommy Bluj led the way for the Vikings, as they did when the two schools met six months ago on the football field, scoring 3 touchdowns between them.
For Randolph the loss is a hit to their confidence after a clutch win against West Morris, as issues of inconsistency continue to plague the Rams.
“Lately we've had good practices and it;s shown, but today we just weren't there,” said Bertelle. “Hopefully we can turn our season around now and end with a bang.”
For senior Matt Vicaro, turning it around comes down to confidence, focus, intensity and playing and practicing like a family. “Sometimes it seems like we're locked in and want it, and sometimes it seems like we're not ready until the 7th inning, down by three.”
Coach Casey hopes to get the 5-8 Rams back on track against Delbarton on Tuesday, but the teams outlook has dimmed with the news that senior Tyler Poulin won't be seeing the mound this year after elbow problems surfaced in his first start this season. He will tough out the rest of the year before opting for surgery.
“I don't think we've reached our potential at all,” said Casey. “To start the season we have strong pitching, strong defense and our hitting is not there. Or where our hitting is there, our defense falls apart or pitching then doesn't step up. We haven't had it all click together, at least for a stretch, for a week. Hopefully going into the state tournament, we have a couple weeks to turn this around and get everybody on the same page.”