CEDAR GROVE, NJ - Remi Sanchez’ two-run single in the top of the fourth gave Hasbrouck Heights the lead, as the Aviators went on to score four runs en route to 5-2 victory over Cedar Grove in the opening round of the NJSIAA North 1, Group 1, State playoffs in Cedar Grove.

Cedar Grove opened the scoring in the bottom of the first, as Shane Benson singled, stole second and scored on an error by Hasbrouck Heights second baseman Peter Neumann, giving the Panthers a 1-0 lead.  

Hasbrouck Heights starter Nick Cupo was able to keep the Panthers at bay until the top of the fourth when the Aviators erupted for four runs to take a 4-1 lead.  Neumann led of the inning with a single, and moved to second on Johnny Capozzi’s single to centerfield. Travis Culkin reached on a bunt that was fielded, loading the bases. Sanchez then singled, scoring Neumann and Capozzi, putting Heights in front, 2-1.

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Spencer Lee then grounded out, putting runners at second and third.  Marcos Ochoa hit into a fielder’s choice, scoring Culkin. Mario Gomez reached on an error by the Cedar Grove second baseman, with Sanchez scoring and giving the Aviators a 4-1.

The Panthers got a run back in the bottom of the fifth as Ray Williams popped a ball into rightfield that was mishandled for a three-base error, and scored on Jake Ferrera’s single, cutting the lead to 4-2.

The Aviators added an insurance run in the top of the seventh, as Shawn Calhoun walked.  After Neumann singled, the Aviators sent in Rocco Minichiello to pinch-run for Calhoun. Following a Capozzi fielder’s choice that put runners on first and third, Culkin singled, scoring Minichiello with the Aviators fifth run.

The Panthers rallied in the bottom of the seventh off of Culkin, who came in to replace Cupo.  With two outs Ryan Turi singled, and Dennis Mitola was hit by a pitch,bringing the tying run to the plate.  Heights catcher Dylan Grisafe was able to throw out Turi trying to steal third to end the game, giving the Aviators a 5-2 victory.

Cupo picked up the win, going six innings, allowing five hits and two runs, while striking out six.  Culkin, picked up a seven-pitch save with a scoreless seventh inning.

Williams took the loss for Cedar Grove, allowing five runs in seven innings, giving up seven hits and four walks, while striking out six.

TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove  is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.

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