Sports

Randolph Baseball Reaches State Sectional Finals Behind Ippolito’s Arm and Flynn’s Bat

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Randolph, NJ- It took two days, some resilient kids, and a few clutch efforts; but when the dust settled, and the fog cleared, the Randolph baseball team marched into the NJSIAA state sectional finals with a 4-1 win over Morristown.

Chris Flynn belted two doubles, scored two runs, and had two RBI’s to power Randolph’s offense, while Thomas Ippolito tossed a gem, going the distance in a three hit shutout and collecting eight strikeouts to earn the win on the mound. 

“It was an outstanding performance by Thomas, I think he threw his best game of the year today,” said Rams manager Doug Anderson.  “He was lights out, kept the ball down, and didn't walk anybody.

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In a “win or go home” spot, Ippolito had no intentions of letting his teams’ season end.

“Today I just went out with my best stuff and made sure I was confident with everything I had,” said Ippolito.  “I knew I could work around their offense if I brought my A game to them.”

The top seeded Rams and the fifth seeded Colonials started their battle on Tuesday.  Randolph was holding a 1-0 lead after one, and was threatening again in the bottom of the second when Connor Sullivan singled and was sacrificed to 2nd base. But a thick fog that had descended over northern NJ was growing worse, and caused the game to be suspended.  Ironically, the other North 1 Group 4 semifinal between Ridgewood and Mt. Olive was also suspended for the same reason.

"He ( Ippolito ) threw 22 pitches yesterday and came back today and threw 68," said Anderson. "You could tell it affected their pitcher a little bit ( restarting the game a day later ), but Thomas didn't skip a beat.”

Flynn kick started the scoring on Tuesday by ripping a double in the first inning, and coming around to score on an RBI single from Jake Barbieri.  When play resumed in the bottom of the second inning on Wednesday, the Rams quickly added another run for a 2-0 lead.

Morristown cut the lead in half in the top of the fourth, but Randolph bounced right back in the bottom half when Flynn knocked in a run with his second double to make it 3-1.  Flynn then scored his second run of the game on a Stu Backer single and RBI to extend the lead to 4-1.

He had really good At-bats and put some nice short and level swings on the baseball,” said Anderson when asked about Flynn’s day at the plate.  “He didn't over swing and try to do too much, and came up big in the #2 hole, somewhere where he has not batted all year until the state playoffs.”

Ippolito and his defense kept Morristown off the scoreboard for the remainder of the game, allowing  only one more base runner and earning the Rams their trip to the finals.

Anderson was pleased with how his players responded to the interruption, having to pick up play the following day.

“They came out ready to go and didn't skip a beat from yesterday,” said Anderson.  “We had 10 hits and made him (Morristown starter and Seton Hall commit Brennan O’Neill) throw 95 pitches.  He's one of the best pitchers in the county.  This was an impressive effort from our offense that should not be overlooked.”

For the game, Backer reached base four times, going 2-for-2, drawing a walk, and getting hit by pitch. Ryan Mulligan finished 2-for-3, while Robbie LaPenna and Ryan McDermott scored a run apiece.

The Rams will face Ridgewood, the tournaments third seed, on Friday June 2 at home.  

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