One of the most amazing comebacks in New Providence baseball history wasn’t to be as the ‘Neer magic just came up short with the Pioneers falling to Park Ridge in a 12-11 thriller.
In a game you had to see to believe, New Providence was down and out heading into the bottom of the 6th inning when they trailed 12-3, being six outs away from their season coming to an abrupt end.
In what seemed like a whole different ballgame, both pitchers were cruising through the first five innings, as the Pioneers held a slim 3-2 lead thanks to a Jack Connor RBI single to left, scoring Ryan Sherman.
Ace Dylan Bedder, who after giving up two runs in the first inning, was lights out until he ran into a bases loaded, tie game predicament with only one out in the top of the 6th.
He was pulled in favor of Nate Scott, who appeared to get New Providence out of the jam, but an error in the infield scored two runs on a ground ball and a throwing error, giving Park Ridge a 5-3 lead.
The floodgates opened after that error, as Park Ridge tacked on seven more runs in the inning before Greg Lambert was able to get the Pioneers out of the mess, but the damage had been done.
Despite the 12-3 deficit, New Providence was able to chip away in the bottom of the 6th, cutting the Park Ridge Lead to six runs heading into the final frame.
It was a clean inning in the top of the 7th for Lambert, and that is when the madness ensued for both teams.
With the top of the Pioneer order leading off the inning, they were immediately able to jump on the game’s new pitcher, as 8 of the first 9 batters miraculously reached for NP, leaving the bases loaded and only one out for the top of the order coming up once again, now trailing 12-11.
Dylan Triano, the Park Ridge Starter who went 6 innings, reentered the game despite throwing over 90 pitches in his start, but was able to reappear on the mound because he was never removed from the game after he finished pitching.
After Matt Shen’s infield single loaded the bases, Tommy Jankowski popped out to shallow right and Tyler DeGeorge popped out to Triano to end the game and give Park Ridge a heart-pounding 12-11 victory, advancing them to the Group 1 final, where they will face Middlesex.
Jack Connor led the team with 2 hits and 3 RBI, and Ryan Sherman added 2 hits as well to balance out the Pioneer offense.
The loss puts New Providence at 20-7 on the season, a phenomenal year that saw them win their first sectional title since 2004, which is their first under head coach Chris Brodeur.
There is no doubting that the Pioneers will be in contention again next year to repeat as state champions, as they return their two aces in Bedder and Sherman, as well as Stanton Leuthner, Chris Kubas, Jack Connor, Nate Scott, and Danny McCarron, who are vital on the field and in the batter’s box.
Congratulations to the 2018 New Providence Pioneer Baseball team on a fantastic season and post-season run, and to all of the seniors who made this year’s success possible.