LONG VALLEY, NJ - The 2013 Hopatcong Baseball Team is one of the youngest in the 44-year history of the program, with nine players with no prior varsity experience, including six freshmen. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, the inexperience showed in the first inning.
Aided by a pair of walks and a key fielding error, West Morris parlayed a six run opening frame into a 9-2 victory, in an independent game played Friday afternoon. Hopatcong is winless in four starts after a week of play.
“After that I got on them a little bit,” explained Hopatcong head coach Chris Buglovsky. “The kids responded well, and [starting pitcher] Pat McNamara settled down for us.”
The Chiefs actually took the lead in the top half of the first. Adam McLagan led off the game with a triple to right field, and scored two batters later after a balk charged to West Morris. However, with center fielder Kevin Mulharin on third base and no one out, Wolfpack starter Andrew Montgomery limited the damage by retiring the next three batters in succession.
Following an infield single and walk to start the bottom of the first, West Morris (2-2) catcher Will Anderson reached base as a result of a crucial Hopatcong fielding error, leaving the bases loaded with no men out.
Tyler Amandos, Justin McPhail, and Dan Siino all reached base to drive in the first three West Morris runs. But Pat Kennedy busted the inning open with a 2 RBI single up the middle, extending the lead to 5-1. Ninth hitter Conor Barron drove in the sixth run on a grounder to second base.
Both Montgomery and McNamara settled down on the hill the next three innings, with neither team being able to push a run across home plate. West Morris loaded the bases in the third once more, but Michael Feula grounded into a force out to McLagan at third base.
In the top half of the fifth, the Chiefs were able to manufacture a run. After groundouts by P.J. Rodick and C.J. Robertson, McLagan hit his second triple of the day, and scored on a wild pitch with Mulharin at the plate, cutting the deficit to 6-2.
But Feula and Anderson would clinch the decision for West Morris in the bottom half of the inning, each driving in runs on base hits and giving the ‘Pack a 9-2 lead. After a scoreless Hopatcong sixth, Chiefs relief pitcher Pat Stanton pitched a scoreless bottom of the sixth.
Hopatcong will be back in action on Tuesday, where they will trek to Hamburg to play Wallkill Valley. For Buglovsky, he saw improvement in his Chiefs as the game went on.
“We learned a lesson from today’s game, hanging right with them the last five and a half innings. If they continue to follow the process and build experience, we’ll be okay the rest of the season.”
The box score follows:
Hopatcong (0-4): 1 0 0 0 1 0 0- 2 4 3
West Morris (2-2): 6 0 0 0 3 0 x- 9 8 1
West Morris Pitching
Andrew Montgomery (W, 1-0): 4.0 IP, 3 H, 1 K, 3 BB, 1 R, 1 ER.
Stephen McDonough: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 K, 1 R, 1 ER.
Ryan Fenske: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 K, 2 BB, 0 R, 0 ER.
Andrew Politi: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 K, 0 BB, 0 R, 0 ER.
Pat McNamara (L, 0-1): 5.0 IP, 8 H, 1 K, 5 BB, 9 R, 6 ER.
Pat Stanton: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 1 K, 0 BB, 0 R, 0 ER.
Time of game: 2 hours, 6 minutes.
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