ROXBURY, NJ – The state championship hopes of the Roxbury baseball team came to an end today as the Gaels lost 4-2 to South Plainfield in a semifinal game at home.

Roxbury found itself in a hole early, one they could not overcome, as some heavy hitting by South Plainfield left the Gaels facing a 3-0 deficit. A triple by Tigers slugger L.J. Scarpitto, followed by a 2-run double and an RBI sacrifice fly, played a big part in Roxbury’s predicament.

The Gaels got on the scoreboard with one run in the second inning as Roxbury began to figure out the pitches of South Plainfield’s Jean Sapini. But Roxbury’s biggest chance of the game came in the bottom of the third.

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After Gaels pitcher Scott Marshall shut-down the Tiger batters at the top of the inning, the Gaels battled back and found themselves with bases loaded. Unfortunately, there were two outs on the scoreboard and a strikeout by Sapini left the three Gaels stranded and the score standing at 3-1, where it remained until the fifth, when South Plainfield scored its fourth run.

Roxbury’s last chance came in a dramatic bottom-of-the-seventh when, with two outs and runners on first and second, a base hit made the score 4-2. However, an easy fly ball ended the game and sent the Tigers off to the NJSIAA North 2, Group 3 Final game against Cranford on May 29.

“This wasn’t what we expected,” said Roxbury Coach Greg Trotter in an interview after meeting with his unhappy team. “They played better than us and their pitcher pitched a great game … But our guys battled.” Trotter noted the teammates really like playing together and hoped to “keep going” for a state championship.

However, the Gaels only have a short time to grieve. They don their uniforms again Wednesday for a conference championship game against West Morris at 4 p.m.

“That’s baseball,” reasoned Roxbury High School Athletic Director Stuart Mason, after the game. “Some days things don’t go our way. But they had a phenomenal season. They worked hard and have lots to be proud of.”