Sports

Montville Baseball Defeats Sparta in First Round of State Tournament, 3-2

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Montville's Erik Katterman slides into home for the Mustangs' first run against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament. Credits: Hope White
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Montville's Joe DelloStritto at bat against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville's Corey Kiernan takes a lead off second against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville's infield during the National Anthem in the first round of the State Tournament against Sparta Credits: Hope White
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Montville's outfield during the National Anthem in the first round of the State Tournament against Sparta Credits: Hope White
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Montville Mustangs during the National Anthem in the first round of the State Tournament against Sparta Credits: Hope White
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Sparta Spartans line up during the National Anthem in the first round of the State Tournament against Montville Credits: Hope White
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Montville's pitcher and catcher during the National Anthem in the first round of the State Tournament against Sparta Credits: Hope White
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Montville's Dominick Caccavella pitches against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville third baseman Jake Courtman against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville left fielder Corey Kiernan makes the catch against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville catcher Brock Caudill against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Sparta with a runner on first against Montville in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville pitcher Dominick Caccavella against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville first baseman Erik Katterman makes the play against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville's Anthony Bio at bat against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville's Brock Caudill at bat against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville right fielder Jon Cocchio makes the play against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville Mustangs mid-game huddle during the first round of the State Tournament against Sparta Credits: Hope White
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Montville's Jake Courtman at bat against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville's Erik Katterman at bat against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville's Anthony Trifari at bat against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville's Anthony Trifari at second against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament  Credits: Hope White
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Montville short stop Joe DelloStritto makes the play against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville first baseman Erik Katterman makes the play against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville second baseman Anthony Bio makes the play against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville's Matt Gambino at bat against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville's Anthony Bio safely steals second against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville with runners on first and third against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville first baseman Erik Katterman makes the play against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville's Matt Fusella pitches with a runner on first against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville catcher Brock Caudill ready for the pitch against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville pitcher Matt Fusella against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville first baseman Erik Katterman runs for the ball against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville's Jon Cocchio safe at first against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville's Jon Cocchio takes the lead off second against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville's Anthony Bio at first against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville's Anthony Bio safe at second against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville's Anthony Trifari takes first base against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville's Corey Kiernan at bat against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville's Matt Gambino takes first against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville pitcher Joe Trifari against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville second baseman Anthony Bio makes the play against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville's Brock Caudill at bat against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville's Joe DelloStritto on first against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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Montville's Joe DelloStritto safe at second against Sparta in the first round of the State Tournament Credits: Hope White
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MONTVILLE, NJ - The Montville Mustangs held on for a 3-2 victory against the Sparta Spartans on Tuesday at Montville Township High School in the first round of the state playoffs.

Erik Katterman went 2 for 3 with 2 runs, one of which was a steal of home plate. Moreover, Corey Kiernan went 1 for 3 with an RBI and Joe DelloStritto went 2 for 3 with an RBI and a stolen base. 

After the game, Head Coach Joe Cardinale reacted to the win, "I'm really proud of the guys for pulling this game out. There were plenty of opportunities where adversity was thrown our way (blowing the 2-0 lead, getting a run taken off the board on the failed squeeze play, Sparta's lead-off double in the 7th). Usually when you have those things happen in a state tournament game, teams don't bounce back. Our guys kept on grinding, stayed in the moment, and were able to persevere despite the setbacks."

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In the top of the first, Mustangs pitcher Dominick Caccavella ran into some trouble with two outs when Cole Patten doubled and Connor Coyle had an infield single. However, he got Jarrett DiBlasio to ground out to Anthony Bio at second to escape trouble. In the top of the second, Caccavella settled down and put down the Spartans in order.

With two outs in the bottom of the second, Katterman singled to left field and advanced to third base after two wild pitches by Coyle. After the next batter, Anthony Trifari, walked, Cardinale called a double steal, allowing Katterman to score the first run of the game.

Caccavella then retired the next three Spartans in order in the top of the third. In the top of the fourth, Cardinale handed the ball over to Matt Fusella who pitched a scoreless inning.

In the bottom of the fourth, Jon Cocchio singled to right field with one out. After a wild pitch allowed him to advance to second and Trifari drew another walk, Kiernan singled to the shortstop. A throwing error on the play allowed Cocchio to score and put the Mustangs up 2-0. 

Cardinale replaced Fusella with Joe Trifari in the top of the fifth, who retired the Spartans in order. In the top of the sixth, however, the Spartans answered offensively. With two outs in the inning, Patten Drew a walk and scored when Coyle smacked a double to left field. The next batter, DiBlasio, then hit a single to right field to score Coyle. However, Trifari got Cam Estanislav to ground out to third for the final out of the inning.

The Mustangs responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the sixth. Katterman led off the inning with an infield single and Trifari sacrificed him over to second. A wild pitch from Coyle allowed Katterman to advance to third. With two outs in the inning, Mike Trezza and Bio each drew a walk. With the bases loaded and two outs, DelloStritto singled to right field to score Katterman to give the Mustangs a 3-2 advantage. On the impact sophomore DelloStritto has on the team, Cardinale said, "On a team full of seniors, we all look to Joe as someone who will be sparking our offense. He leads our team in Batting Average, Hits, Doubles, and is Second in Runs."

In the top of the seventh, Cardinale put in closer Brock Caudill. After a lead off double by Ethan Guerra, a sacrifice bunt by Jake Zerillo allowed Caudill to throw out Guerra trying to advance to third. With one out and a runner at first, Caudill got Jaivis Ronan to ground into a double play to end the game.

The Mustangs have won 7 of their last 8 games, and Cardinale attributed that to the pitching and solid defense, "Our pitching philosophy is to work ahead, have quick at bats, and pitch to contact. That puts the emphasis on your defense. Coach Guarino does a tremendous job with our outfielders - Corey, Matt, and Jon catch everything.  Our infielders (Katterman, Bio, DelloStritto, Courtman) have been playing at a high level, and situationally we've executed bunt defenses and first/thirds with regularity. During our 7-1 run, we've only made 4 errors in 8 games. If we continue to do these little things, we'll be in a position to win out the rest of the way."

The Mustangs (16-11) will face off next against the #14 seed Indian Hills Braves (14-12) in the second round of the state tournament at Montville Township High School on Thursday, May 26 at 4 p.m.

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