SCOTCH PLAINS-FANWOOD, NJ – With the combination of strong pitching and timely batting, the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Raiders blanked Watchung Hills 4-0 in the NJSIAA tournament quarterfinals on Thursday.
The Warriors sent Brian Reiss to the mound to duel the Raiders’ ace, Chris Gibbons, who allowed just two hits through all seven innings.
“After getting that first win at home in the beginning of the season, I go out there with the most confidence in the world,” Gibbons said after the game. “People don’t realize, but it’s a huge factor when you’re adjusted to one mound.”
Gibbons would contribute to the Raiders offensive breakout in the second inning, following Kevin Maxwell’s leadoff hit with a base hit of his own to set up scoring opportunities.
JT Beirne laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the two runners, which allowed Christian Isolda, Peter Yarem, and Zach Lipshitz to drive in three runs early in the game.
Watchung Hills managed to get men on base by way of walks and a few infield singles, but failed to get anyone across home plate.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s Peter Yarem notched his second hit in the sixth inning, cracking a double to right center. The next batter, Alex Eckert, brought Yarem home on a line drive RBI down the third base line.
With a 4-0 victory, the Raiders advance in the NJSIAA tournament semifinals without giving up a single run. Coach Joe Higgins credits both his pitching staff and the team effort on offense.
“It’s a sign that we’re getting good pitching. I just tell the kids usually to take with us from each game something, and the confidence on the mound is what we took today,” he said. “I had a good feeling about the way we were swinging the bat.”
The Raiders will take on No. 6 seed Ridge on Tuesday in the semifinal round. They are amongst the four teams that remain in the North 2, Group 4 bracket along with Edison and Millburn.