MORRISTOWN, NJ - The Morristown High baseball team saw its hopes for a Morris County title end in dramatic and heart-breaking fashion on Sunday when crosstown rival Delbarton defeated the Colonials, 1-0, in an eight inning classic, in the MCT semifinals.
The loss, Morristown's first since April 15, snapped a nine-game winning streak.
Third-seeded Delbarton (10-6), which had been shutdown for most of the afternoon by Morristown (10-6) ace Brennan O'Neill, started its rally when Patrick Harrington drew a one-out walk. Ninth place hitter Peter Royse sacrificed Harrington to second, setting up an unenviable dilemma for the Colonials with Anthony Volpe coming up to bat.
Tenth-seeded Morristown decided to intentionally walk the Vanderbilt University commit Volpe, who had already reached base twice prior, and instead, pitching to Andrew Papantonis, a University of Virginia commit.
Given an opportunity to win the game for him team, Papantonis took full advantage, jumping on a first pitch fastball and hitting it to right field for a single, which scored Harrington for the lone run of the day.
The final hit was the lone blip on an otherwise stellar day for O'Neill, a junior committed to play at Seton Hall University. He allowed just one run on three hits and four walks with six strikeouts. O'Neill retired the first nine batters he faced on just 34 pitches and he did not give up his first hit of the day until Tom Colicchio singled with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Morristown's best scoring chance came in the top of the first inning as Matt Nodoro was hit by a Hunter Waldis pitch, then moved to second on an errant pickoff throw. Four batters later, the Colonial's Andrew Gold singled, but an excellent throw home from Delbarton right fielder Greg Olson beat Nodoro at the plate for the final out of the inning.
Waldis, also a Seton Hall commit, settled down after that, allowing just four hits and a walk with seven strikeout over the first 6 2/3 innings. The senior, who retired the last eight batters he faced, was lifted from the game with two outs in top of the seventh due to the state's new pitch count rules. Left-hander Billy Price came on in relief and after allowing a Nodoro single, retired the next four batters he faced - three of them by strikeout - to get the win.
Morristown, which had defeated Mountain Lakes, Butler and Pequannock to reach the semifinals, was seeking its first trip to the Morris County Tournament final since 2010. Now in tournament's 50th year, Morristown has won the MCT title 14 times, eight more than any other school. The Colonials' last title came when they repeated as champions in 2009 and 2010.
Delbarton will be seeking its fifth MCT crown and first since 2012 when it faces top-seeded Randolph in the final at Horseshoe Lake Park in Succasunna at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Randolph earned a 2-1 extra-innings victory over Morris Hills in Sunday's other semifinal.
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