SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- After losing their past five games in a row - with three of the losses coming in the final inning - Scotch Plains-Fanwood used some late game magic of its own in defeating a tough Bridgewater-Raritan team, 4-3, in walk-off fashion.
The Raiders were buoyed by Michael Urbano's first ever career start in which the junior went 7 innings while yielding only one earned run with 2 walks and 7 strikeouts.
"Ubano did a tremendous job for us today. He had a great year on JV last year," said varsity coach Joe Higgins. "He was composed on the mound, had great command and held runners on. He had done well for us last week vs. Millville, so we gave him his first varsity start."
After several heartbreaking losses stemming from miscues and being shut down by one of the best pitchers in the state, Union's Zach Fernandez, the Raiders needed a lift. Wednesday's walkoff win might just be the game to help right the ship.
"I'm so proud of this team. A lot of guys contributed to today's win," Higgins added. "All week, I've been telling them two things: 1) we have to clean up the mistakes, and 2) our fortunes have to turn around."
On Wednesday, both occurred.
The Raiders's bats erupted for 14 hits. Patrick Cucurullo went 3-for-4 with 2 RBI. Willie Gale had 2 hits in 5 at-bats with a stolen base and an RBI. Jonathan Ramos continued his hot hitting by going 2-for-three.
Charles Widder (1-0) got into trouble in the 8th inning after giving up a hit and two walks to load the bases. He escaped unscathed by getting Greg Verano to fly out to deep left field on a ball that looked at first like it might be a grand slam. The ball stayed was caught for the out, and Widder wound up with the victory after the Raiders pushed across a run in the final frame.
In the bottom of the 8th, Matt Delgado reached on a hit, but was erased on Ricky Lopez's bunt attempt in which the catcher gunned down the lead runner. Ramos reached on a single, putting runners on 1st and 2nd before Willie Gale dropped a single in front of the left fielder to plate the winning run.
Bridgewater-Raritan starter Zach Schwartz held the Raiders to just 2 runs on 10 hits in 5 innings of work. Verano, who gave up 2 runs (one unearned), was charged with the loss. At the plate, Anthony Scarlata, Justin Sinibaldi, and Matt Smoke each had a pair of hits for Bridgewater-Raritan. Jake Hendershot walked and doubled.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood (3-6) will host Cranford, fresh from handling Gov. Livingston its first loss, at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday. The Raiders play again on Saturday in Sayreville. Meanwhile, Bridgewater-Raritan (7-4) travels to Egg Harbor on Thursday.