RANDOLPH, NJ- A fast moving, tightly played game that saw Randolph holding a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the 5th, turned into a rout as the Rams made Mendham pay for mistakes and ran away with an 8-1 win in the Morris County Baseball Tournament Opener.
Even though both teams put up a run in the first, the early innings of the game moved rapidly as both teams’ pitchers quickly sent batters back to their dugouts with a few three-up and three-down innings.
“We pitched very well, and defended very well today,” said Rams manager Doug Anderson. “We didn't take advantage earlier in the game, ( At the plate ) but we got a lot of timely hits.”
With the Rams clinging to a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the 5th, Anderson used some ‘small ball’ strategy to get his team some breathing room.
After a Ryan Mulligan one out single, Anderson called on Brendan Lowery to sacrifice bunt. Lowery executed it perfectly, moving Mulligan into scoring position at second base. Jake Barbierie made the coaches call look good when he ripped a two out single to drive in Mulligan for a 3-1 lead.
In the sixth, Anderson saw the opportunity to manufacture another run with the same play, and once again the Rams worked it to perfection. Shane Keane led off with a walk, and was followed by Chris Flynn who laid down another perfect sacrifice bunt. Connor Sullivan drove Keane in when he belted a double to right center. At that point, the wheels fell off for Mendham, as three fielding errors allowed the Rams to pile on four more runs, leading to the final 8-1 tally.
“Our kids kept grinding it out and stuck with it,” said Anderson. “Eventually we were able to put the game away later after Mendham made some mistakes.”
Thomas Ippolito threw 99 pitches in a complete game victory, allowing only three hits and striking out seven batters to shut down Mendham and earn the win.
“We were able to put a run on the board early, and then our defense stayed strong from the first inning to the last,” said Ippolito. “The bottom of the sixth was what secured our win, now we need to look forward to our game against Mt. Olive and play the same baseball we have been all season.”
Stu Backer reached base safely four times, going 2-for-2 with two RBI’s, and getting hit by a pitch twice, while Mulligan was 3-for-4, scoring three times.
“It was good to go out there and win the way we did today,” said Barbiere. “Mendham is a good program and to come out with a win has us very excited and prepared for the MCT and the rest of the year.”