CLARK, NJ -  Arthur L. Johnson High School junior Kevin Metz hit a walk-off single to lift the Crusaders past the Carteret High School Ramblers by a final score of 7-6 Tuesday afternoon in Clark.

Metz singled with the bases loaded to help the Crusaders to the win, after the team struggled to find a spark in their offense earlier in the game.

“Battling back from that early hole and getting it done really tops off our pretty good season right now for our seniors,” Metz said.

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In that inning, with the bases loaded, junior Joe Turek was hit by a pitch in the leg, allowing junior Mike Casalino to score to knot the game up 6-6.

“I think our pitching kept us around and we did enough defensively,” Johnson head coach Dave Kennedy said. “It was a strange game. We probably didn’t deserve to win today, but one of the beauties of baseball is there’s no clock and there’s time if you believe, so these guys stuck with it.”

Before the game, the Crusaders honored their 2017 seniors, Vin Crisafi, Mike Sot, Brendan Stanzione and Connor Fayard, for their years of dedication to the Johnson baseball program.

The seniors reflected on their playing careers at ALJ.

  • “It’s meant a lot because growing up and playing baseball, I wanted to continue it through high school and everything. The program’s meant a lot to me. Athletically, in a competitive nature, it’s done a lot and I’m glad I was able to continue it all four years and just play hard and play with my brothers.” -Vin Crisafi
  • “It’s been great. I love Johnson baseball, it’s been a lot of fun playing these four years and hopefully we finish the season out well.” -Mike Sot
  • “It’s been a blessing, it’s been fun playing both baseball and basketball four years and for the school. It’s crazy it’s almost over, but I’ve had a good time here, hopefully we can win some more.” -Brendan Stanzione
  • “Playing baseball here has meant a lot to me. It’s been fun, a lot of fun and I like playing baseball.” -Connor Fayard

Kennedy praised his seniors for leading his team throughout the season, having worked with them throughout their careers.

“Three of the four seniors [Crisafi, Sot, Stanzione], I’ve had them for more than one year, this is my first year with Connor,” Kennedy said. “I’ve also had Brendan as a basketball player for many years so we’ve been around each other for a long time. It’s going to be different when they’re gone.”

“They’ve certainly put an imprint on this program and certainly are leaving it for the better,” Kennedy added.

When the game started, it initially appeared as though Carteret was in full control of the game.

With a runner on first base, an error allowed a run to score to give the Ramblers the early 1-0 lead. Also for Carteret, senior Michael App drove home junior Chris Pena with a single, giving his team a 2-0 lead.

They would add to their lead in the top of the third inning. After two straight walks to start the inning, another Crusaders error allowed a run to come in, the score now 3-0 Carteret. Senior Angelo Golino drove in another run with a single and later on, a sacrifice fly from junior Josh Chambers, scoring senior James Hart, had Carteret in control at that point, up 5-0.

In total, the Crusaders committed eight errors on the afternoon, but they would battle back in the bottom of the inning.

After a hit-by-pitch and walk put runners on first and second base, senior Mike Sot drove in one run with a ground-rule double, to cut the lead to 5-1. Junior Joe Turek drove in junior Mike Casalino with a sacrifice fly, making the Carteret lead 5-2 after three innings of play.

After Pena reached on another error, Hart drove him home with a double, to make the lead 6-2 Carteret.

The Crusaders slowly continued to answer. Metz got an infield single and went to third after two groundouts. He would race to home plate and score on a wild pitch, cutting the Carteret lead to 6-3.

Stanzione led the bottom of the fifth inning off with a single and two batters later, would come in to score on a Turek single, cutting the lead down to 6-4. Turek would score on a groundout from Crisafi. The momentum for the Crusaders stalled after Metz was picked off and tagged out for the final out of the inning.

When the game shifted to the bottom of the seventh inning, things would change for the Crusaders. Casalino led off the inning with a single and Stanzione was hit by a pitch. Sot followed with an infield single to load the bases with no outs.

Turek was hit by a pitch that allowed the tying run to score and two batters later, Metz sealed the win with a line drive for the RBI single. He said he was okay despite being hit by the pitch, happy to be able to come through with the victory on an important day.

“I feel great. I just did it for my team,” Turek said. “It’s big, we wanted to send the seniors out with a win.”

The Johnson Crusaders (10-9) play their next regular season game Thursday afternoon on the road at Elizabeth HS at 4:00 p.m.

The Carteret Ramblers (6-13) head back home for a game against Rahway HS next Tuesday, May 16 at 4:00 p.m.

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