Baseball: Panthers Ground Aviators 10-3

JR Droge was excellent in his varsity debut for Cedar Grove Credits: Nick Teodoro
Credits: Nick Teodoro
Shane Benson drives a single to right for Cedar Grove Credits: Nick Teodoro

CEDAR GROVE, NJ - A strong offensive showing for the Cedar Grove Baseball Team resulted in a 10-3 victory over Hasbrouck Heights on Saturday afternoon.

“I’m happy today this was a good win by us…getting a win today for us was big,” said Cedar Grove Head Coach Randy Nelson.

The Panthers and Aviators were tied at two heading into the third when the Cedar Grove offense erupted for the games decisive blows. A six run top of the third, which peaked at four straight RBI hits buried the Hasbrouck Heights team. Jake Ferrera, J.R Droge, Chris Napolitano and Joe Rufo all drove in runs for Cedar Grove in the inning. The scoring run was prompted by a Ryan Turi walk, who later scored on a wild pitch to start the rally.

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 “It helps and it makes you relax a little bit to be able to come in and get a couple hits…I had a couple guys hit the ball real well and we’re starting to hit a little,” said Nelson.

The offensive rally helped prompt a game where a Cedar Grove lineup hit from top to bottom. Eight different Panther batters finished Saturday’s contest with a hit, six of which drove in at least one run for the team.

 Joe Rufo was one of the six who drove in a Cedar Grove run. Additionally, the senior was one of four who drove in and scored an additional run to boot. The shortstop has been on fire lately hitting out of the two spot scoring four runs in his past two games.

“Joe is having a real real good year. It’s his senior year and he’s making the most of it. He’s played flawless shortstop, he’s made big hits in big games…he is one of my captains and right now is everything I could ask for,” said Nelson.

While the team’s offensive exploits clearly were the deciding factor in beating their Bergen County counterpart the team received an excellent performance from pitcher J.R Droge. In Droge’s varsity debut coming in as a reliever he went seven innings giving up just one run off of four hits. His performance prompted his coach to jokingly suggest that he ‘might be around for a while.’

“He locates so well, his fastball, his curveball, he doesn’t try to throw the ball by the guy, but he locates on the inner half, the outer half, he has command,” said Nelson.

Cedar Grove’s victory improves the team to 6-5 on the year as they’ve now won two games in a row. The team will need to continue their excellent play as they take on Bloomfield Tech and Glen Ridge in the upcoming week.

“We can do it, we’ve got the players here, we’ve got the talent here and we’re starting to roll,” said Nelson.


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