FRENCHTOWN, N.J. -- Pitcher Chris Shine did his thing on the mound and came up clutch at the plate late in the game as ninth-seeded South Plainfield defeated eighth-seeded Delaware Valley, 3-0, in the first round of the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 2 tournament on the road.
Shine earned his seventh win of the season by pitching a three-hitter while allowing just one walk. He struck out nine.
The Seton Hall signee mixed up his pitches and was able to keep the opposition off balanced.
“On the mound I mostly worked the curveball off my fastball and didn’t need any changeups. As long as I was locating my fastball I was in a very good spot,” Shine said. “My mindset entering the game was to go out and pitch like I always do. I wasn’t trying to do anything different, just staying consistent with myself and working off my strengths.”
The game was scoreless until the top of the seventh when South Plainfield (18-8) scored three runs. With runners on first and second base with two outs, Jordan Hamberg hit a ground ball to the shortstop, but he bobbled it and rushed the throw over to first base and overthrew it. One run scored.
Then, Shine helped his cause and smacked a 2-run single for added insurance.
Despite going almost the full game with no run scored, the Tigers weren’t tight. They were loose and had the confidence they would win.
“It might sound surprising but we were not nervous at all in the 7th. Everybody was cracking jokes and up on the fence. It was the loudest I’ve heard our dugout all year,” Shine said. “We knew we were eventually going to pull through since we had so many chances early in the game we didn’t capitalize on. All we needed to do was execute and do our own individual jobs.
Mike Marrero, Cooper Smith, and Shine all had one single while Rob Gonzalez went 2-for-4.
For Delaware Valley (10-9), John Raymond notched two singles in three tries.
Next up for South Plainfield is top-seeded Governor Livingston. The Highlanders and Tigers have met in the postseason each of the last two years and three times since 2013. Gov. Livingston won in 2018 and 2017. Last year, acting as the same seeds, they met in the quarterfinals and the Highlanders left with an 11-2 win.
Two seasons ago, Gov. Livingston came back to score three runs in the bottom of the seventh for a walk-off sectional title win. South Plainfield won in 2013 in the quarterfinals.
South Plainfield and Gov. Livingston will meet once again on Thursday at 4:00 p.m. in Berkeley Heights.
“As long as we play our game I believe we’re going to win,” Shine said. “Our team can hit very well and our pitching is very strong. As long as we execute when asked like bunting or situational stuff I like our chances,”
Follow Chris Nalwasky on Twitter @ChrisWasky.