PISCATAWAY, NJ -- When nobody expects much out of you, you play with a chip on your shoulder and just go out there feeling loose.
Quietly going about their business, or loudly if you ask the blaring music or the constant energetic chirping in the dugout, the Piscataway High School varsity baseball team is making some noise within county. Behind an all around solid game, the 14th-seeded Chiefs beat 19th-seeded Edison, 10-2, late Friday afternoon in the preliminary round of the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament under cloudy and chilly conditions at McMahon Field at Columbus Park in Piscataway.
The Chiefs flashed the leather in the field, cranked out 10 hits at the plate, and had pitcher Jason Mahmood toss a complete game in 110 pitches.
“We were pretty solid all day (offensively). We came out and swung the bats. We had a tough game yesterday against East Brunswick where we lost 6-5, but these guys have been resilient all year,” Chiefs third-year head Scott Gleichenhaus told TAPinto Piscataway.
“Yesterday it looked like it was going to be a 6-2 game, but next thing you know it’s 6-5 with the tying run on second base (in the top of the seventh inning) and these guys fed off of it and carried it into today and it showed with the sticks. We played pretty much a complete game and I’m proud of these guys. They’re capable of it.”
Although early in the game in the first inning, the book was opened and the story was written for the entire contest. Edison had the bases loaded with one out. But, Mahmood, who looked like he was getting squeezed by the home plate umpire with close pitches being called balls, got out of the jam unscathed after striking out the last two batters.
In the bottom of the inning, Piscataway found themselves with the bases loaded as well, but unlike the Eagles, they came through.
Junior Joe Maisano, who went 3-for-4 in the game with three total RBI, drove in two runs on a single to right which put the Chiefs up 2-0. Piscataway would score one more in each the second and third innings before exploding for six in the sixth to put the game out of reach after Edison pushed across a run in the top of the third and sixth.
“Crucial,” Gleichenhaus said of the first inning runs. “One of our problems all year long is, if you look at our record right now we’re 11-9, but in some of those loses it's a product of us leaving too many guys on base and not coming through in the clutch. Joe Maisano has stepped up and came through today. He’s been doing it the last few games. I keep telling them hitting is contagious and be confident. Scrape some runs across early and good things will happen.”
Catcher James Ingram showed off his all-around game himself as the catcher went 2-for-2 with two runs scored with an RBI and two stolen bases for the Chiefs. Ingram blocked balls in the dirt behind home plate as well.
Designated hitter Chris Lowry, who batted in place of Mahmood in the order, went 1-for-2 with three runs scored and three stolen bases. First baseman Justin Mckeown hit the ball on the nose a few times, and notched a two-RBI double which highlighted the big sixth inning. Parris Washington finished with a hit and RBI as well.
“We’ve juggled the lineup around and we have Ingram who’s one of our best hitters to the top of the lineup [leading off],” Gleichenhaus said. ‘He’s a table-setter for 3-4-5 in the order in McKeown, Washington, and Lowry.”
On the mound, Mahmood pitched a six-hitter, allowing one earned run and a walk while striking out seven mixing up his pitches and changing the eye level of the batters.
“We got quality innings out of our guy, Jason Mahmood,” Gleichenhaus said. “He’s been our guy all year. When he’s on he’s tough to hit because he keeps hitters off balanced. The best thing is he’s around the (strike) zone and keeps the ball moving and keeps the defense in the game. He works quick and our defense was on point today.”
Alex Sommer went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI for the Eagles.
With the victory, Piscataway advances to the first round of the tournament where they travel to meet the third-seeded Bears of East Brunswick (17-4) once again on Monday. With big recent come-from-behind wins over South Plainfield (13-10) and Middlesex (6-5), owners of the fourth and seventh seeds respectively, Piscataway will be confident and ready to go. The real meat of the postseason begins now.
“These guys always fight until the last out,” Gleichenhaus said. “They understand when we get opportunities they have to seize it. I’m just proud of these guys. Nobody expected anything from us. I hope that by hanging with East Brunswick the other day that they understand they have a chance and they can do it.”
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