It’s another trip to the Central Jersey Group 1 Championship Game for Middlesex.
The top-seeded Blue Jays beat 12th-seed Florence in the sectional semifinals Wednesday afternoon at Mountainview Park by a score of 11-1, behind solid pitching from sophomore Aidan Kozak, and two big innings offensively.
Kozak got the last-minute start in place of Raiden Yost on what head coach Justin Nastasi called a “gut feeling.” And the sophomore didn’t disappoint.
In a game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio, Kozak struck out ten and allowed just two hits. He allowed just four baserunners in his five innings of work.
Most importantly, it leaves Yost and ace Stephen Young free and clear of pitch count limits for Friday’s sectional title game against 6th-seed Point Pleasant Beach, the third straight meeting in the sectional final between the Blue Jays and the Garnet Gulls.
At the plate, Middlesex banged out nine hits, including a two-run homer from catcher Mark Geist in the fourth inning, and a three-run homer by Ryan Vollmer later in the frame.
The Blue Jays had gotten out to a three-nothing lead in the second on a bases loaded walk by Ty Nicolay, and a two-RBI double by Young.
Then, the Blue Jays put the game away in the fifth, with a small, but strong, thunderstorm approaching.
In the midst of two pauses when thunder forced the umpires to get together for a quick discussion, Geist drove in a run to make it 9-0 with an RBI single before Vollmer delivered the decisive blow, a two-RBI single over the head of centerfielder Nick Corsi – who had started the game on the mound – that invoked the mercy rule.
Click below to listen to the complete Central Jersey Group 1 semifinal game broadcast: