CHATHAM, NJ - Rahway ran into a hot pitcher in its state tournament opener on Monday.
Chatham left-hander Matt Stamford, coming off a no-hitter vs. Delaware Valley on May 14, extended his hitless streak to 11 straight innings in helping his team defeat Rahway, 9-2, in the opening round of the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3 state tournament at Chatham High.
Stamford retired the first nine batters of the game before Luis Muller's line single to left leading off the fourth broke the pitcher's consecutive hitless streak at 11 innings. After a sacrifice bunt by Jayson Gonzalez moved Muller to second, a balk put him at third base with one out. Jason Winters then drew a walk to put runners on first and third for the Indians.
Andres Garcia then ripped a line drive right at the Chatham second baseman, Clay Delsandro, who made the catch and threw to third base for the double play. Muller was originally called safe, but Chatham coach Todd Leathers argued the call and asked the umpires to talk it over. After a discussion, the umpires reversed the call and it was an inning-ending double play.
"From my point of view, he was obviously out," Leathers said. "We asked for him to get help."
Chatham (16-7) led, 2-0, in the fourth, but padded its lead to 5-0 in the fourth, highlighted by a two-run homer from Peter DeMaria.
"I felt really good," said Stamford, who had four strikeouts. "I was able to locate my fastball and when I needed to, I could throw my curveball in the dirt on two-strike counts. When you have two pitches like that, it makes it a lot easier. That (double plays) was huge. It was really big."
Chatham had taken a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Clay Delsandro lifted a fly ball to short right that Rahway second baseman Jayson Gonzalez caught and threw home, but DeMaria was able to avoid the tag by catcher Jordan Becker, sliding in safely (see below).
Rahway (15-6) pushed across two runs in the sixth to cut its deficit to 7-2. Ryan Beenders reached on an error and Muller doubled to right field before Gonzalez picked up an RBI with a grounder to short. Winters followed with an RBI single.
"That was a pretty good team," Leathers said. "They came in with 15 wins and leading their conference. They know how to win, so we knew it wasn't going to be one of those rollovers. The first guy (Winters) did a good job of mixing speeds and keeping us off balance and we got to him eventually."
The Indians loaded the bases in the seventh before Chatham reliever Tyler Tornberg closed it out