FORT LEE, NJ - Nutley dropped the second and deciding game of the 14-and-under Junior League Baseball Section 2 Championship, losing to Saddle Brook 15-4 last night (July 20) at Lewis F. Cole Middle School Field Complex in Fort Lee.
One night earlier, Nutley suffered their first loss of the entire postseason to Saddle Brook 8-2 on Thursday in Game 1 of the Finals. With both teams having one loss apiece in this double-elimination tournament, Nutley was forced into Game 2.
Saddle Brook, designated the visiting team, led things off with a vengeance in the top of the first inning, cracking 2 doubles, swiping a stolen base, working a walk, and taking advantage of two Nutley errors that led to two runs.
Saddle Brook added two more runs in the second inning after two singles, a stolen base, a walk and another Nutley error to extend their lead 4-0.
The Nutley bats, which were held to just two runs and three hits the night before, finally came alive in the bottom of second.
Alex Sanchez led off with a single, stole a base, and scored after two consecutive throwing errors. Jack Kirk came through with an RBI while grounding out. Anthony Mielnicki had an RBI single, stole a base, and scored after two more Saddle Brook errors. Chris Rogue added an RBI double, as Nutley batted around and tied the game at 4-4.
Even though Nutley scored four runs in the second inning, they would leave the bases loaded to end the inning - which would eventually prove to a missed opportunity.
Saddle Brook was held scoreless in the top of the third inning after scoring in each of the previous nine innings over the past two games against Nutley.
Unfortunately for Nutley, that would be the only inning they wouldn’t give up a run. To make matters worse, Nutley wouldn’t score again.
Saddle Brook unloaded in the top of the fourth inning to break the tie with nine runs off seven hits, and again aided by sloppy Nutley defense to pull away for good 13-4.
Saddle Brook added two more runs in the top of the fifth inning to lead 15-4. The game was called by rule after five full innings as Nutley was trailing by more than 10 runs.
Saddle Brook shortstop JP Kuczik, who was the winning pitcher in Thursday’s game, was the hitting star tonight with a double, single, walk, and three RBI’s.
Saddle Brook right-handed pitcher Mike Garbarino got the win, giving up five hits but only one earned due to the four errors in the second inning. He also collected two hits and an RBI.
Nutley right-handed pitcher Sal Intilli suffered the loss, pitching three-plus innings, surrendering six hits and five earned runs. Nick Schroder and Alex Sanchez entered in relief and did not fare much better on the mound, as all Nutley pitchers were hindered by poor fielding.
Nutley entered the finals undefeated from the winner’s bracket. Before losing two straight to Saddle Brook, they shutout Secaucus 9-0 on Friday, July 13, and overpowered Fort Lee 11-1 on Saturday, July 14.
Saddle Brook, the District 5 and Section 2 Champions, lost their opening game to Fort Lee 10-4 on Friday, July 13; then defeated Secaucus 12-10 on Saturday, July 14, and beat Fort Lee again 7-4 on Wednesday, July 18 to make it to the finals.
Saddle Brook advances to the 14U State Tournament, with their first game against Ridgewood this coming Tuesday, July 24, 6 pm at Lyndhurst Recreation Field. The other two teams in the States, Sayreville and North Vineland, follow at 8 pm.
The second night of the States takes place the following night on Wednesday, July 25 with the loser’s bracket at 6 pm, and the winners bracket at 8 pm.
The game was marred by an incident that began in the bleachers during the third inning as parents representing both teams began shouting at each other. The expletive-filled argument, behind the Nutley dugout and near child spectators, spilled over into the fourth inning.
Cooler heads eventually prevailed, but not before the parents embarrassed themselves while watching teenagers play a baseball game.