MILLBURN, NJ - Connor Lally pitched a two-hitter and Jared Nemet drove in three runs with a pair of extra-base hits to lift Millburn to a 5-0 victory over Scotch Plains-Fanwood in the quarterfinal round of the NJSIAA Section 2, Group 4 baseball tournament on Friday.
It was the second year in a row that Millburn shut out the Raiders in the same round of the tournament. And, just like last year, the Millers will move on to face Watchung Hills in the sectional semifinals, only this year, that matchup will be in Millburn on Tuesday afternoon.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood (17-10) had won eight games in a row.
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Millburn (22-5) managed only five hits off SPF sophomore left-hander Danny Wilkinson, but Nemet's two long hits were the killing blows, and Millburn also worked three unintentional walks and a hit batsman in Wilkinson's five innings.
Lally struck out three and walked one in a very efficient outing. Senior right fielder Colin McAlindin was the only Raider batter to hit safely against Millburn's senior righty, reaching on a line drive single in the second inning and a leadoff bunt in the fifth. But in both instances, McAlindin was erased on inning-ending 6-4-3 double plays from Peter Gula to Ben Pampush to Mike Kologlu.
Lally and Kologlu drew one-out walks against Wilkinson in the second inning and, with two out, Nemet drilled a 350-foot two-run triple to deep left on the fence-less field. Millburn appeared to be en route to going down quietly against Wilkinson in the fourth after he struck out the leadoff batter with a wicked curve and then got out No. 2 on a pop to first baseman Matt Fox. But freshman third baseman Ben Chrzanowski drew a two-out walk, then Nemet--who bats eighth in Millburn's order--smacked a line drive to the gap in left-center. Raider center fielder Jake Canavan--who has wowed the Raider faithful with several breathtaking catches this season--made a valiant dive and barely got a glove on the ball while he was airborne, but it went for an RBI double.
Millburn added its final two runs in the fifth inning. Ben Sinins, also a freshman, beat out an infield hit, Gula hit into a force play and then took third on Pampush's double down the left field line. SPF intentionally walked Millburn slugger Richie Schiekofer, but Wilkinson then hit Peter Serruto with the bases loaded, and Lally's groundout brought home another run for Millburn's 5-0 lead.
Nick McCormack pitched a scoreless sixth inning for the Raiders, walking one and striking out two.