SOUTH PLAINFIELD - Pitcher Vinny Pellegrino cruised to a complete game performance and senior captains Chris Graves and LJ Scarpitto paced the offense in the Tigers’ 7-2 victory over the Woodbridge Barons in their first game of the county tournament on Tuesday evening in South Plainfield.
Pellegrino was in control all game long, striking out four and scattering two runs on seven hits.
“Vinny pitched himself out of some jams, which always gives us an opportunity to win. He made some good pitches. Of course, double plays always help,” manager Anthony Guida said about his pitcher, referring to the two double plays turned by Pellegrino’s infield defense that killed Woodbridge rallies in the second and fifth innings.
The Tiger offense brought runs across home plate every inning except the third and fifth. The biggest moment came in the fourth, when the Tigers put three on the board to take control of the game for good.
Designated hitter Kyle Dickerson stepped up to the plate with two outs and no runners on base and worked a walk and then stole second. Scarpitto, the first baseman, singled Dickerson home to make the score 3-1 and took second base on the throw to the plate. Second baseman Bryan Gillen was beaned to put runners on first and second for Graves, who sliced a bases-clearing double to give South Plainfield a 5-1 lead.
“That was huge. I think it was the first pitch as well. Their left fielder is a small kid and he doesn’t have a strong arm but he can cover a lot of ground. He was right on it and made a valiant effort. For a second I thought he might have flagged it down.” Guida said. “It was a big spot to get a big hit, and for us to run the bases well and score two there, that was very good.”
“In those situations you want another hit to pile on a little bit more, which we didn’t do,” Guida lamented. “A 7-2 win is good- a five run margin- but you kind of want to tack more on there. And we haven’t had many of those games.”
South Plainfield put the game further out of reach with two more runs in the sixth.
Scarpitto was plunked and Gillen singled to left allowing Graves another RBI opportunity which he took full advantage of, again knocking a base hit to left that scored Scarpitto. Sophomore Jean Sapini worked a walk while pinch hitting for Nick Polizzano and Sean Erhardt placed an RBI sacrifice fly deep to right for the seventh and final Tigers run.
Scarpitto was a force all game long, doubling in his first at bat in the first inning and then scoring on Gillen’s base hit to center.
“In the first inning, to get that first run is huge. He hit the ball to left center field and legged it out to a double. Just a real smart baseball player. He’s been getting some big hits for us at the top of the lineup. He gets himself on base two or three times a game.” Guida said of Scarpitto.
The other South Plainfield run came in the bottom of the second when left fielder Tommy Dunn and center fielder Jack Gillis singled to center and left respectively and then Dickerson brought Dunn home with a base hit of his own to left.
Guida would not tip his hand on lineup tweaks or who would start on the mound Thursday in the tournament semi-final at North Brunswick Community Park. The Tigers (16-7) will try to avenge last year’s loss to St. Joseph Metuchen in the GMC Tournament final.