RANDOLPH, NJ- For the second time in four years, Randolph baseball coach Doug Anderson got his team clicking when it mattered most – Playoff time.
In a similar fashion to the 2015 season, the Rams turned around an up-and down season by going on a run in the state playoffs, winning three straight road games as an underdog to reach the Sectional Finals. However, unlike the 2015 team, this year they were unable to capture that final win against a powerful Ridgefield team, falling by the score of 12-1.
“For the second year in a row, I'm saying that's one of the best hitting high school teams I've ever seen,” said Rams coach Doug Anderson, whose 20-6. “They have a very talented group of players, and it seemed every ball they hit found a hole. 14 of their 15 hits were singles, and most were with two strikes. We needed to play a perfect game to beat them and unfortunately that didn’t happen.”
The Rams also ran into Ridgewood in last years’ sectional finals, and met a similar fate against the Maroons. Ridgewood averaged 13 runs a game in last years playoff run, and after defeating Randolph this year their four game playoff average was 11 runs per game.
The game started positively for Randolph, when a top of the first inning RBI single by Shane Keane ( 2-for-2 in the game ) gave them a 1-0 lead. However, Ridgewood answered right back with three of their own in the bottom half. After two more runs for Ridgewood in the second, the game blew open in the third as they piled on seven more, and the game was effectively over.
“We were playing with house money and all knew it, players included,” said Anderson, whose team was a No. 9 seed and facing the No. 2 seed in Ridgewood. “I told them after the game how proud we were of them as a coaching staff. It was great to see them come together down the last few weeks of the season and play together as a team in the true sense of the word. They did a great job and they created some memories that they will never forget.”
Randolph mustered seven hits in the game, with Brendan Lowery also collecting two hits, going 2-for-3 at the plate and scoring the Rams only run.
Before the Ridgewood game, Randolph was on a five game winning streak that included some impressive victories.
In the state tournament second round game, the Rams soundly beat Livingston, the No. 1 seed and the Essex County champion. Next they defeated Roxbury who ended up winning the North 1 Group 3 State Sectional title, and followed that up with a dramatic 1-0 defeat of Morristown who was the Morris County Champion.
“It was fun to watch the kids gel and really start pulling for each other and develop their own identity,” said Anderson. “We won a conference/division championship this season after losing 16 seniors from last year. “That's really hard to do. It was an honor and a privilege to coach this group of kids.”
The Rams, who were 7-8 at the start of the state playoffs and the five game winning streak, finished the season at 12-9.