CLARK, NJ - Arthur L. Johnson High School senior Gianna Randazza tossed a no-hitter as the No. 5 seeded Crusaders rolled past the No. 12 seeded East Brunswick Tech High School Tigers in their NJSIAA Central, Group 2 First Round matchup by a final score of 14-0 Thursday afternoon in Clark.
Randazza struck out 11 batters and allowed only four walks. She retired the first 11 batters before walking East Brunswick Tech senior Amanda Lopez.
“It’s really just about advancing and keep moving on,” Randazza said. “We want to achieve the same goal that we had last year and win the states. So, as long as we keep moving on, we’re doing our job.”
The Crusaders took advantage of several walks while at the plate in the bottom of the first inning. Every batter in the Crusaders lineup got one plate appearance in that inning, where six walks were dealt.
With the bases loaded and two outs, sophomore Victoria Zatko reached on an error, allowing sophomore Jenna Addie and junior Nicole Cassano to score, giving Johnson the early 2-0 lead. Freshman Megan Tinger would reach on base on an error, allowing Zatko to come in and score, making the game 3-0 Johnson.
After walks to juniors Mackenzie Purcell and Jen Tinger loaded the bases again for the Crusaders, freshman Lia D’Angelo walked, scoring Megan Tinger to give her team a 4-0 lead.
In the bottom of the second inning, the Crusaders continued to score runs. Junior Lauren Donah walked to lead off the inning and Randazza singled. After Zatko was hit by a pitch, Megan Tinger walked with the bases loaded again, scoring Donah to make it a 5-0 game.
Next one up, Purcell singled on a line drive, scoring Randazza and Zatko to give her team a 7-0 lead.
“We just have to keep practicing, we have a game tomorrow,” Purcell said. “So, [we] just have to keep playing, get groundballs, swings and hits because the tournament is only going to get harder from here.”
As the game shifted to the bottom of the third inning, Randazza gave her team a boost at the plate, a sacrifice fly, allowing senior Shannon Brogan to score to make the lead 8-0 Johnson.
Her teammates would help secure the win in the bottom of the fourth inning.
After a single by Purcell and Jen Tinger was hit by a pitch, D’Angelo cashed in for an RBI single, scoring Purcell to make the game 9-0. On the afternoon, D’Angelo went 1-for-3 with two RBI’s.
“We did really good at hitting later on in the game,” D’Angelo said. “I’m really proud of them and Gianna got a good game, she pitched a very good game and I’m just proud of everybody with what they did.”
Donah recorded a bases-loaded walk to score Jen Tinger, making the game 10-0. Randazza was hit by a pitch with the bases still loaded, scoring D’Angelo, as the lead now became 11-0 Johnson. Cassano drove in a run on a fielder’s choice, scoring Brogan, making the game 12-0 Johnson.
Freshman Megan Tinger walked with the bases loaded, scoring Randazza and Jen Tinger’s RBI single, driving in Cassano put the Crusaders ahead 14-0.
In total, East Brunswick Tech walked 13 Johnson batters and hit four more. The game was called after the top of the fifth inning, with the score 14-0 Johnson, courtesy of the ten-run mercy rule.
“They key today was to come in and take care of business and try to get a win any way we can,” Johnson head coach Chris Di Nucci said. “We did that today, we came out and got it done.”
“We play Immaculata tomorrow. We’ll be competing to try and win that game,” Di Nucci said. “Then, we’ll be moving on in the states on Monday at Raritan. They’re a challenging team and they’re tough and we’ve got to compete and bring our best game.”
The Johnson Crusaders (18-8) play their next regular season game on the road at Immaculata HS Friday afternoon at 4:00 p.m.
They advance to the NJSIAA Central, Group 2 Quarterfinals, and will face off on the road at No. 4 seeded Raritan HS Monday afternoon at 4:00 p.m.
“We just have to take it game-by-game,” Brogan said. “We can’t look too much in the future. We have to win every game and that’s what we have to do.”
The East Brunswick Tech Tigers (12-9) will head out on the road to play at Rumson-Fair Haven HS in regular season play Friday afternoon at 4:00 p.m.
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