WARREN, NJ - Brian Reiss threw a complete game shutout, Brandon Hylton homered and Ed Poggi's double play stopped a Miller comeback to lead Watchung Hills over Millburn, 3-0, in the NJSIAA North 2, Group 4 semifinals on Tuesday.
Heads-up base running by Watchung Hills made a difference. Matt Mastrobattista scored on a wild pitch and Brandon Hylton hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning.
Head coach Joe Tremarco said, "We just beat one of the best teams in the state. Reiss was unbelievable hitting spots and doing what he does and our defense backed him up. Hylton unbelievable HR! Poggi with the momentum stopper DP....just at testament of how hard these guys have worked and how they believe in one another and what we do here.....this was a staple win for us...they are a great team!"
The game took just one hour and 20 minutes to complete, and some of the breaks that undid the Millers also seemed to come in a blink-and-you-missed it flash. In the decisive fourth inning, with one out, Matt Mastrobattista lifted a towering fly ball that Millburn right fielder Mike Garawitz couldn't find in the bright sunlight. The ball fell and by the time Garawitz retrieved it and relayed it back in, Mastrobattista was on third.
"Mike said that once the ball got above a certain height out there (in right field), he just couldn't see the ball," Millburn coach Brian Chapman said.
Moments later, on a walk to Ed Poggi, Millburn pitcher Brian Lannino's pitch bounced away and Mastrobattista beat Lannino to the plate to give Watchung Hills a 1-0 lead.
The next batter, tall left-handed 10th-grader Brandon Hylton, went down and turned on a Lannino fastball that got too much of the plate and launched it into the shrubbery beyond the right-field fence for a two-run homer as Garawitz slammed into the temporary fence and dislodged it in pursuit of the round-tripper.
The Hustlin' Warriors improve to 27-4 and will host North Hunterdon on Friday. North Hunterdon blanked Westfield, 8-0, in the other NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 semifinal on Tuesday.
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