PISCATAWAY, NJ - In an early-season grudge match between two of the premier high school baseball programs in New Jersey, St. Peter's Prep blinked first.
A precocious Millburn team broke up a scoreless duel with four runs in the top of the ninth inning and held on for a 4-0 victory over the Marauders in a showcase game played at Rutgers University.
Millburn right-handers Kyle Mazer and Mike Kologlu combined to limit St. Peter's Prep to four hits, and their work in keeping St. Peter's off the scoreboard was paramount with blue chip junior Jack Carey, who has already committed to Duke University, holding Millburn without a hit for five innings. The Millers mustered a total of two hits in the seven innings Carey was on the mound.
In the ninth inning, against the third pitcher for St. Peter's, Richie Schiekofer and Kologlu both drew walks to open the inning, then Peter Serruto, called upon to sacrifice, instead beat out a bunt that was bobbled by the pitcher to load the bases with none out. Connor Lally drew a bases-loaded walk to give Millburn a 1-0 lead, then a pair of freshmen knocked in the next three runs.
Freshman third baseman Ben Chrzanowski grounded an RBI single to left field for a 2-0 lead, and, after a strikeout, freshman right fielder Ben Sinins grounded a two-run single past the reach of St. Peter's diving shortstop for a 4-0 lead. It was the third base hit of the game for Sinins.
"I wasn't trying to do too much," said Sinins, playing just his third varsity game. "I just wanted to get on base. But I definitely thrive on (the pressure)."
Kologlu, who recorded inning-ending strikeouts in the seventh and eighth innings with runners on base, had to escape trouble in the ninth. He walked consecutive batters with one out, but got the next hitter on a called third strike with a fastball on the outside corner, then got a fly out to left for the final out.
"I just needed to try to throw strikes and attack the zone," said Kologlu, a senior.
Mazer kept St. Peter's in check through 5 2/3 innings with an effective change-up and a sharp slider, leaving with one one after allowing just three hits.
"I didn't have my best stuff," said Mazer, a junior. "But I knew I had the best defense in the state behind me, and my change-up came on as the game went on, especially against lefties."
Although Millburn is a perennial public school baseball power in New Jersey, the Millers came into this season with more inexperience than the program's varsity is accustomed to. After winning on opening day, Millburn lost a 7-3 game to Montclair. Head coach Brian Chapman said that merely getting the opportunity to play against an elite program like St. Peter's Prep in a big-time atmosphere was going to be invaluable for his young team, win or lose, but hanging in against one of the best pitchers in New Jersey and then winning in extra innings had the coach calling it one of the best victories he's experienced since taking over the program six years ago.