AUGUSTA, NJ – Bridgewater-Raritan emerged from a “pool of death” in North Region 8 to advance to the knockout stage of the Last Dance World Series (LDWS), as the Panthers broke a three-way tie with Immaculata and Somerville thanks to their two total runs allowed in 22 innings of pool play.
Jefferson matched that total with one out in the top of the 3rd inning on July 21, but still ultimately came from behind to knock off Bridgewater-Raritan.
The Panthers took a 3-2 lead into the top of the 5th frame behind the arm of starting pitcher Jonathan Travisano (5 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 11 K). But three unanswered runs by the Falcons in the 5th and 6th innings, and three scoreless innings of relief by Jefferson’s Johnny Knox propelled the Falcons into the North Region quarterfinals with a 5-3 victory over Bridgewater-Raritan.
In what ended up being another pitching duel for the Panthers, Travisano and Falcons starting pitcher Zack Roskowsky (2 H, 3 R 3 BB, 5 K) both shined for their respective teams at Skylands Stadium. Both pitchers started off hot out of the gate, as they retired the batters they faced in order with a pair of strikeouts each in the 1st inning. With one out in the top of the 2nd frame, Falcons hitters Mike Novak and Tyler Ruban hit back-to-back singles to put runners on first and second for Jefferson. Travisano immediately responded by striking out three straight Falcons batters, keeping the game scoreless and giving the Panthers starter five strikeouts in nine batters faced up to that point.
In the bottom of the 2nd inning, after another strikeout by Roskowsky, Bridgewater-Raritan shortstop Matt Smoke drew a full-count walk. After a bobbled grounder by Jefferson resulted in Aaron Santos making it to first safely, a perfectly executed bunt up the middle by Manny Correia rolled a third of the way up towards the mound, scoring Smoke and the game’s first run with one out.
With runners on first and third, two straight strikeouts by Roskowsky limited the damage by Bridgewater-Raritan in the 2nd inning to that one run, but the Panthers took a 1-0 lead into the 3rd frame.
After another strikeout by Travisano to open the 3rd inning, a walk by Knox and a single by Falcons catcher Austin Jack put runners on first and second with one out. While Travisano’s remaining two outs came via strikeouts, a two-out, two-run double by Jefferson’s Jason Taylor in between put the Falcons on the board and up 2-1, and the Panthers went down in order in the bottom of the 3rd inning.
Travisano started the 4th inning with a pair of strikeouts, and Jefferson came up empty with a runner on second. Bridgewater-Raritan carried that momentum into the bottom of the frame. Smoke drew a walk before Santos hit a one-out single, and after both runners stole second and third, Correia got his second RBI in as many at bats with a single to score Smoke and tie the game.
A groundout by Panthers third baseman DJ Ward scored Santos to give Bridgewater-Raritan a 3-2 lead with two outs before a productive 4th inning came to an end.
After Travisano’s 11th and final strikeout to open the 5th inning followed by a double by Roskowsky to give Jefferson a runner on second with one out, Justin Sinibaldi came in at relief for Bridgewater-Raritan with fellow senior Justin Peterson eventually coming in late in the contest.
On the Falcons’ next at bat, a one-out single by Taylor tied the game at 3-3 to cap off a 2-for-3 day at the plate with a walk and three RBIs. Two batters later, Ruban hit the go-ahead, two-out RBI double to put Jefferson ahead for good.
Knox then replaced Roskowsky, who threw 78 pitches in his start for Jefferson, on the mound to open the bottom of the 5th inning. Three heroic innings of relief by Knox ultimately earned him the win on the mound, only allowing two Panthers hits in the 11 batters he faced to keep the Falcons in front.
Jefferson’s Justin Cece drew a walk and dodged a pair of pickoff attempts by the Panthers, eventually giving the Falcons an insurance run and a 5-3 lead with one out in the top of the 6th inning. Knox got both of his strikeouts for Jefferson in the bottom of the frame, and ended the game by retiring the Panthers in order in the bottom of the 7th inning to give Jefferson the win.
Correia went 1-for-2 with a pair of RBIs for Bridgewater-Raritan.
Jefferson advances to the LDWS Round of 16 to face top-seeded Don Bosco (July 22, 1 p.m., Yogi Berra Stadium), who rallied from a 5-1 deficit with a six-run 6th inning and held on late to stun Governor Livingston with a 7-6 victory.
The Panthers’ great LDWS tournament run comes to an end after four games with their 5-3 loss to Jefferson at Skylands Stadium.
Ten members of the Bridgewater-Raritan Baseball squad are graduating seniors of the Class of 2020: Manny Correia, Mike Maciolek, David Olsakowski, Jake Olson, Justin Peterson, Zachary Schwartz, Aidan Schweizer, Justin Sinibaldi, Jonathan Travisano, and DJ Ward.
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