LITTLE FALLS, NJ - A strong fourth inning coupled with dominant pitching propelled the Verona Baseball Team to a big 3-1 victory over rival Cedar Grove Wednesday night at Yogi Berra Stadium.
“It’s always nice to win this game, they are a real good team Cedar Grove…that’s a good win for us, that’s a good team we just beat,” said Verona Head Coach Joseph Phelan.
Both teams threw their best starting pitchers out on the hill in an attempt to win bragging rights. The result was expected as the first three innings were scoreless showing a mere single base runner who reached on an error.
Ultimately Verona drew first blood in the game’s decisive inning during their turn in the bottom of the fourth. After Ian Metzger led off the inning with a double Steven Priscoe drove him in one batter later for the games first run on a single to center. Priscoe only a few pitches later was driven in by teammate Anthony Zamloot for a 2-0 Hillbilly lead.
“Coach just told us to move up into the box and take everything to right field since he was throwing the ball outside. We just took the pitches he gave us and scored some runs,” said Steven Priscoe.
The offense was more than enough for Verona starting pitcher Collin Kiernan who blew through a complete game. Kiernan threw perhaps his best start of the year with 17 strikeouts and allowing just one run off of two hits.
“The way [Kiernan] was pitching tonight I thought when we scored that first run we had a real good chance [at winning]. He was lights out,” said Priscoe.
Cedar Grove’s lone run came in the top of the fifth as they showed some resilience in answering back against their Verona counterparts. Jake Ferrera drove in Ryan Turi on a line drive to center to cut the lead in half. Unfortunately for the Panthers the rally died shortly after on a strikeout and fly out to center.
Despite taking the loss Panthers starting pitcher Ray Williams was impressive under the bright lights. The sophomore did all he could to match his senior counterpart allowing just three runs and striking out nine batters in the process. His play impressed his rival coach.
“Williams, this is the first time I saw him, he’s a very good pitcher and I told their coach he’s got a good one for the next few years,” said Phelan.
Verona answered back with one more insurance run in the bottom of the fifth to close out the offense for the contest. Sal Vassallo’s RBI single drove in Nick Zamloot to put Verona up 3-1 and end any hopes of a Cedar Grove comeback.
“To get that run back again we knew that was big for [our team] to have that third run,” said Phelan.
Cedar Grove’s loss to Verona drops the Panthers to 12-8 on the season breaking a two game winning streak in the process. The Panthers will look to get back on the winning side of things as they take on West Orange on Friday.
For Verona the victory improves the team to 11-9 on the season as they’ve now won three of their last four games. The Hillbillies will take on Seton Hall Prep on Thursday.