CRANFORD - Will Gallagher didn't pitch a single inning last year. But in this shortened "season," he has developed into Cranford's ace.
Gallagher tossed a one-hit shutout while striking out eight, walking one, and hit two batters as Cranford defeated No. 1 seed Don Bosco Prep, 12-0, in the semifinal round of the North Regional Last Dance World Series at TD Bank Ballpark on Tuesday.
"It felt great, you know, against the one seed" said Gallagher. "Everyone doubted us this game being the 13th seed. These (Don Bosco) kids are good hitters. I located my spots, got outs, and my fielders fielded."
Gallagher, a sophomore, spent his freshman season at shortstop for the Cougars and didn't expect to pitch had there been a regular season. Head Coach Dennis McCaffery gave Gallagher the ball for Cranford's win or go home game against Union, and he hasn't looked back.
"I wasn't even suppose to pitch this year. I was just suppose to play shortstop," said Gallagher. "He asked me to pitch (against Union), I threw a complete game, and just kept going from there."
"Any time Will Gallagher has any kind of part in the game, you have a good shot," said McCaffery. "I've been working with this group since they were five years old. Will Gallagher has always been talented. We knew what Will Gallagher was capable of doing."
Aiden Plick went 3-for-3 with a home run and three RBI. He drove-in each of Cranford's first two runs in the third and fifth innings before smashing a solo shot over the right field wall.
Plick's home run was part of Cranford's six-run sixth inning, and came following a controversial three-run triple by Ryan Jaros. Just behind and above the outfield wall at TD Bank Ballpark is a second wall that boasts advertiser banners. Jaros drove the ball to deep left-center field, and many argued that the ball hit off the advertiser wall for a home run, but following an umpires meeting, the call was that the ball ricocheted off the outfield wall. Jaros never stopped hustling and was able to clear the bases and reach third.
"I thought it was out, but at the same time, these fences are weird. It's a hard call to make" said Plick who was on deck. "Even though it was a triple, it scored three runs, and that was a great job by him."
Jaros finished 2-for-4 with four RBI. Marcus Johnson reached base four times for the third straight game with two hits, two walks, and an RBI. Jake Chapman went 2-for-4. Gallagher helped his cause with two hits and an RBI.
With the win, Cranford advances to take on Bergen Catholic in the North Region finals at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Skylands Stadium in Augusta, NJ.