MORRISTOWN, NJ- In a 1-1 game in the bottom of the eighth inning at Harter Road Field in the first round of the North 1 Group 4 state tournament, Tate Ballestero came up to the plate with the winning run on second with 2 outs. The shortstop hit a ground ball up the middle to the second baseman and hustled all the way down the first base line sliding into first base forcing an errant throw which allowed Ted Smarz to cross home plate to give the Colonials a 2-1 win.
“We left a lot of runners on base, but for us to get the win is huge,” said coach Ed Collins. “For us to get a win with a lot going against us is great for this team. We have to win these types of games and in this tournament, it’s survive and advance, and we are onto the next round.”
Smarz came up with one out and tapped a fastball just in front of homeplate. Albert Sanchez got to it quickly, but with Smarz hustling down the line it was a tough play and he threw the ball over the first baseman’s head which moved Smarz over to second.
In this pitchers’ duel, it was the home side scoring first in the bottom of the fourth when Justin Barrett hit a slow chopper up the third base line plating Lucas Reidda putting Morristown up 1-0.
That lead didn’t last long as Union City tied the score in the fifth on a Samuel Lopez RBI single to left. Gustavo Veridicia scored from third, but Jose Polanco was gunned down at the plate to keep the score tied at 1-1.
Morristown was given another gem from Brennan O’Neill who went the full 8 innings allowing 4 hits and striking out 12 batters.
“Brennan was lights out again today and we played good defense behind him,” said Collins. “We’d like to get him a bigger cushion, so he doesn’t have to work so hard, but he gets ahead of counts and gets himself out of jams. He’s a veteran and he’s been doing this for a long time.”
The Colonials had runners on base all afternoon long but struggled to get them in. They had the bases loaded in 3 separate innings, only scoring 1 run in those opportunities.
Morristown will play Fair Lawn in their Quarterfinal matchup on Thursday.
Sign up to get all the news as it happens at www.TAPinto.net/enews and follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MorristownTAP/ and on Twitter at @MorristownTAP and on Instagram at @tapintomorristown