SPRINGFIELD, NJ - In a season where they have gotten contributions throughout the lineup, the Dayton baseball team needed every contribution, particularly in the fifth inning, on Saturday.
Senior Joe Kastner gave up five hits over 6 2/3 innings with three earned runs, one walk, and nine strikeouts and senior Anthony Monguso had a two-run single to spark a five-run fifth inning to propel top-seeded Dayton to a come-from-behind 6-3 victory over eighth-seeded Becton in the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 1 tournament at historic Ruby Field in Springfield.
Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning, Kastner started the inning with a single to right centerfield, senior Matthew Pavick walked, and junior Jeffrey Carrier had an infield single to load the bases with no outs prior to Monguso’s go-ahead two-run single.
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“My mentality going up to the plate was just get this ball in a hole and secure the lead. I knew my guys needed me and I'm thankful I could give them that moment. The crowd made the experience even better and I was thankful that I was able to give this town that big moment in a big situation,” said Monguso. “The inning was terrific, the guys set the tone on the bench cheering and each guy knew the approach we had to take in order to get ourselves back in the game. Since we've played together in the past, we have such great chemistry. We know each other's strengths and weaknesses and I think we can help and pick each other up when we need too.”
Junior Jack Quinn added another two-run single for insurance to extend Dayton’s lead to 5-2 in the fifth inning and Carrier capped his day with a team-high three hits, including a double, with an RBI and a run scored for Dayton, which will host fourth-seeded Ridgefield (14-12) in the semifinals on Tuesday, May 30 at 4 p.m.
“We started out a little slow out of the gates offensively, but we had Joe (Kastner) on the mound who was going to keep us in the game no matter what, so I knew if we could get him a lead he would hold it down,” said Quinn. “Overall, everyone did their jobs and it was a great team win and now all the focus shifts to Tuesday.”
Dayton (17-5), which has won two straight and five of its last six games, clinched an N2, G1 semifinal berth for the seventh time in head coach Michael Abbate’s eight seasons.
Tuesday’s other semifinal features 14th-seeded North Arlington (10-15) at seventh-seeded Glen Ridge (10-13) with the final set for Friday, June 2 at 4 p.m. at the higher seed remaining.
Kastner had two singles with a run scored and Pavick, along with juniors Adam Wuest and Anthony Santucci, each added a run scored for Dayton, which will face Ridgefield for the fourth time in state tournament action in the past five years, is 0-3 against the Bergen County-based school, all on the road.
“My performance on the mound can always get better, even though I only had one walk today, but I could definitely mix up my pitches more. We came into that fifth inning with me and Matt (Pavick) due up and Coach said that if he told us we would be down one run in the fifth inning in this situation and me and Matt would lead off he would take that any day,” said Kastner, who improved to 8-0 on the season. “Once we got the bases loaded Goose had a big hit up the middle which gave us the lead and we never looked back.”