WOODBRIDGE, NJ -- If this was the last game senior Anthony Gonzalez ever pitches for the Chatham High baseball team, the right-hander will be able to say he went out with one of the best performances of his four-year varsity career.
The right-hander would be hard-pressed to top his two-hit shutout that sent No. 11 seed Chatham past No. 6 Woodbridge, 5-0, in the opening round of the NJSIAa North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3 state tournament on Wednesday.
Chatham (7-15) had its "Senior Day" cut short by rain on May 28, but the Cougar seniors made for a day of their own by leading the way in the biggest win of the season.
In addition to Gonzalez's gem, senior catcher Logan Rooney had three hits, two RBI, and a run scored, and senior infielder Dennis Moynihan reached base in all four of his at-bats, banging out two doubles and a single, drawing a walk, scoring three runs and stealing two bases.
Gonzalez threw 93 pitches in facing 24 batters, just three over the minimum, striking out nine and walking none. He allowed just two singles.
Chatham advances to play No. 3 seed Somerville (19-3) on Saturday in the sectional quarterfinal round.
Gonzalez and Rooney talk about the win
Chatham gave Gonzalez the only run he would need in the top of the first when Moynihan led off with a walk, stole second, and scored from third on a two-out single to left by Alex Holburton.
Woodbridge (12-9) had its best chance to get to Gonzalez in the bottom of the first. A single by Brett Lukachyk and an error gave the Barrons first and second with one out. Josh Vasquez followed with a grounder that Cougar second baseman Will Mumby fielded and threw to shortstop Justin Regno for the force at second. Regno, however, was knocked over with a hard slide before he could make the throw to first and the umpire ruled it an inning-ending double play.
After the double play, Gonzalez retired the next nine batters, six of them by strikeout. Gonzalez struck out the side in the third and then struck out the first two batters of the fourth before the string of five straight Ks was broken by a grounder to second.
"You could definitely see he had that bulldog attitude," Rooney said. "He told me, 'Dude, I'm just throwing it down the middle and see if they could hit it.' He had a real good fastball and curve today."
Chatham took a 2-0 lead in the third, again sparked by Moynihan, who led off with a double to center. Freshman Trent Jenks singled to right and Rooney delivered Moynihan with a single to left.
In the fourth, Owen McClintock and Moynihan hit back-to-back singles with one out. Jenks lifted a sacrifice fly to right to score McCintock and Rooney hit a two-out single to score Moynihan for a 4-0 advantage.
Rooney collected his third hit of the game in the seventh before senior courtesy runner Sean McArthur scored from second on senior Nate Iuzzolino's pinch-hit double to left-center.
Woodbridge did get a runner to third base in the sixth with the help of an error but Gonzalez kept the slate clean when McClintock ran down a ball hit to deep center for the third out. Gonzalez closed it out with a neat 1-2-3 seventh, with the final out a comebacker to the mound that he ran toward first for an underhanded toss.
"The formula is pretty simple, make them put the ball in play, don't walk people," Chatham coach Todd Leathers said. "We know we have our strengths and weaknesses as a team. Defensively, we've struggled a little bit all year. If we don't walk people it's hard to score runs, especially when you have a guy as good as (Gonzalez) is on the mound.
"When we made the run in the county, we had the countdown of five. The first thing you look at is a sectional championship and that number is four. How do we compete to get to four wins right now. Now we have one to play Saturday."
COUGAR NOTES: Cougar senior catcher Logan Rooney was hearing trumpets playing in his head when he approached the plate and it helped him relax as he collected three straight singles, knocked in two runs and scored one in the state tournament win.
Rooney struck out looking in the first inning before Chatham coach Todd Leathers had a talk with him.
"My first at-bat I felt a little uncomfortable, and I was in my head too much," Rooney said. "Coach calmed me down before my second at-bat. He told me to go out and have fun; go out and swing. I just sang my favorite song in my head, my walk-up song - Touch the Sky by Kanye West - and I was listening to the trumpets playing in the background."
Senior Dennis Moynihan was pretty quick on the base paths, stealing two bases and scoring three runs for Chatham, but he was even faster at leaving the field after the final out. Moynihan had to hustle back to Chatham, where he was scheduled to receive a "Bell Award" at CHS ... Six of Chatham's seven wins have come on the road this season and the victory vs. Woodbridge snapped the Cougars' six-game losing skid ... No. 3 seed Somerville (19-3) has a 14-game winning streak, which includes its 20-3 win over Warren Hills in its first-round state tournament game in which it pounded out 15 hits on Wednesday ... Chatham and Somerville last met in 2016 in the first round of the state tournament, a 2-1 win by Somerville ... senior right-hander John Kowalczyk will get the mound assignment for Chatham vs. Somerville.