VERONA, NJ - Stalled at 1-1 after 10 innings, Ian Metzger stepped to the plate at the annual Verona vs. Cedar Grove Rivalry game at Yogi Berra Stadium on Wednesday night.  With the game on the line, Metzger drove a double to the right-centerfield gap that rounded Anthony Zamloot from first base for the game’s decisive run -- making Metzger the TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove Hillbilly Athlete of the Week.  

"It was a great game.  Neither team wanted to give up," Metzger said.  "To win it like that, after such a long game, was an awesome feeling."

Metzger said the epic game was the highlight of his season so far and he's hoping the momentum will help his team finish strong. 

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"Our seasons going pretty well -- we're 11-10 now.  The beginning was a little rough, but we're hitting our stride now," he explained.  "Our offense is picking up and our pitching is better than ever so I have a good feeling about the rest of the season."

On the mound for Verona, Metzger has struck out 61 batters this season -- his contribution on offense, a .386 batting average and 15 RBI, including the game winning RBI against Cedar Grove.   

"Biggest strength for our team is definitely pitching and defense," Metzger noted.  "Our offense has been a little lackluster and it's our biggest challenge, but we're piecing it together."

Looking ahead, Metzger has his eye on states and knows there is still work to be done.  

" I just want to keep going -- keep playing my best, keeping pitching my game and keep hitting the ball.  As a team we want to do well in states, but we will just take it round by round," he said. 

As he finishes up his baseball career at VHS, Metzger will remember his time as Hillbilly fondly.

"I just want to keep playing baseball with my team and enjoy the rest of the season," he said.  "I've had a lot of fun playing the past few years so I just want to soak it all in."

As for his Athlete of the Week selection, the second of his career, Metzger remains humble.

"It feels awesome -- it's an honor.  There are a ton of great athletes in my school and it's an honor to be one of them," he said.  

Metzger will continue his baseball career at the University of Southern New Hampshire.

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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