NEW JERSEY - The South Plainfield High School varsity baseball and softball teams were both in quarterfinal action Thursday afternoon in the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3 tournaments.
In fact, both the Tigers and Lady Tigers played games to a final score of 8-1, and played against opponents with the “Cougars” nickname. But, the one and only glaring difference is only the softball team came out on the winning side, and as a result, advanced to the semifinals next week with a victory over Chatham.
Makayla Sosa put South Plainfield on the board with a bases loaded walk in the bottom of the second inning. Caity Hughes followed with a sacrifice fly to left, and a defensive throwing error allowed a third run to score and the Lady Tigers led 3-0 after two.
South Plainfield put any hopes of a Chatham comeback away in the sixth inning with five runs to go up 8-0. Caity Hughes, Sosa, and Meghan Hughes manufactured RBIs while Katherine Vill capped the outburst with a two-run double.
Sosa finished her day at the plate going 1-for-2 with a pair of RBIs and a run scored while Caity Hughes went 1-for-3 with two RBIs as a well and a run scored. Camryn Schaeffer touched home twice, while Meghan Hughes, Jennifer Grasso, Naomi Nieves, and Nicole Gerardi scored once.
To go along with her two-run double, Vill picked up another win from the circle, upping her record to 20-4 on the season. Vill gave up five hits, a run, and struck out four in a complete game – seven innings of work.
The Lady Tigers will battle with and try to upset highly-ranked and No.1-seed Middletown North (24-3) next Tuesday in Middletown.
However, South Plainfield has some unfinished business to attend to in the semifinals of the Greater Middlesex County tournament this Saturday morning against East Brunswick at Middlesex County College in Edison.
As for the baseball team, the Tigers fell in a rematch of last year’s sectional championship game to Cranford.
“It’s nice to still be alive this time of the year,” Cranford head coach Dennis McCaffery told TAPinto South Plainfield after the game when asked how it felt to move onto the semifinals and knock off the Tigers. “(They’re) a great ball club, a great program in South Plainfield. [They’re] well coached, tough kids, and we’re fortunate to get the win.”
Cranford was stout in all three phases of the game: At bat, in the field, and on the mound.
“That’s the key,” McCaffery said. “You know, you throw strikes and play [good] defense you give yourself chance to win the ballgame.”
The Cougars racked up 12 hits and used a five-run third-inning to take a 5-1 lead after the Tigers managed a run in the top of the first. Cranford was led by Brian Oblachinski who went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and Garrett Forrestal, who notched a game-high four RBIs with two hits, including a triple, two runs scored, a walk, and a stolen base.
In addition, Ryan Bakie, Michael Smith, and Joseph Norton each went 2-for-4 for the Cougars, who will play the eighth-seeded Nutley next Tuesday.
For South Plainfield, Kean-bound shortstop Nick Polizzano tried to provide a spark with his 2-for-3 day from the plate, but it wasn’t enough.
Cranford’s Gordon Graceffo shut down the Tigers, allowing only three hits, one run, and two walks with three strikeouts in seven innings for the win.
Jean Sapini took the loss for the Tigers, and Stony Brook-bound Jake Alba came on in relief, but neither fared well against the potent Cougars lineup.
Follow Chris Nalwasky on Twitter @ChrisWasky as Chris continues to monitor the SPHS softball team and their tournament runs for TAPinto.net.