SUMMIT, NJ - One can forgive the Summit High School varsity baseball Team for acting less-than-neighborly when they took on their 2,640-feet away foe, Oratory Prep. After all, while hot dogs were on the grill nearby, this wasn't a backyard barbecue, it was 'Senior Night," and the Hilltoppers were intent on sending their soon-to-be-graduating upper classmen out on a high note.
The crosstown showdown was more like a crosstown beat down, as The Maroon and White used great pitching, six-run third and nine-run fourth innings, and 12 runs contributed from seniors to defeat Oratory Prep 18-3.
The five-inning, 'mercy rule' triumph over the Rams on Summit's 'Senior Night' improved the Hilltoppers' record to 11-9.
The first inning set a solid tone for the Hilltoppers as Ben Lim was able to retire the side from the mound, striking out two of the first three Oratory batters.
Lim's clean start would be followed by an equally hearty start by the Summit offense in the bottom half of the frame as senior captain Grant Douglas would drive in classmate and fellow captain Matt Murdock with an RBI double.
Douglas' gapper was followed by a single by UPenn-bound senior Will Schaffer and another single by junior captain Andrew Miller that plated Douglas to make it 2-0 Hilltoppers heading to the second inning.
Lim worked another scoreless inning and, when Summit took to the dish, Murdock tripled and was driven home by a single by senior Matt Mormile.
Summit was a more gracious host in the top of the third, giving the big home crowd a bit of drama by allowing the Rams to tie the game at 3-3. Then, on a clear night, the thunder came.
The Hilltoppers put up a six spot in the bottom of the third, as Murdock kept his big night going with a three-run home run, with the home team getting two more RBI from Miller and an the second RBI of the game from Mormile.
Lim reprised his opening two innings performance by tossing a scoreless top of the fourth, and then the skies opened up big time, as Summit got RBIs from Douglas, Lim, Matt Reddy, Greg Vlass, Miller, Murdock and Schaffer.
Lim turned out the lights on the Upper Turf Field -- literally -- firing a scoreless fifth inning.
On the night, The Mighty Murdock went 4-5 with a homerun, a triple and five RBI while Lim pitched a complete game with seven strikeouts while only allowing one earned run and two walks. Douglas and Miller each knocked in three runs, with Schaffer, Mormile, Reddy, and Vlass all posting two RBI.
After the final out was recorded, Summit head coach Kevin Zaleski thanked the crowd and the incredible offense for an amazing night.
”It was really great that we got a good crowd on Senior Night. The Seniors have done a great job and tonight we did a great job of punishing the baseball. Ben had a great night on the mound and we were able to capitalize on our chances and back him up.”
Summit next takes on a tough Scotch Plains-Fanwood team at Memorial Field May 17. First pitch is set for 4 p.m.
Kyle Standing is a Summit High School sophomore.