Three of the four higher seeds won Saturday in the Somerset County Tournament quarterfinals, setting up the matchups at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater for the semifinals on May 9th.
Top-seed Ridge, second-seed Somerville, and fourth-seed Bridgewater-Raritan were the higher seeds to move on, while 6th-seed Rutgers Prep knocked off third-seed Montgomery.
The Argonauts’ 8-3 win over the Cougars was an upset by seed, but Prep had come into the game at 9-2, while Montgomery was 5-5. Yet Rutgers Prep did lose to Monty earlier in April, 9-1 on the second day of the season. And both games were at Montgomery.
Nick Baldev went 2-for-2 and Andrew Parisi 2-for-3, with a double and 2 RBI each as Prep took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first and never looked back. Starting pitcher Zach Fronio got the win, scattering five hits over five innings of scoreless ball, striking out eight.
AUDIO: Rutgers Prep head coach Larry Santowasso on Prep’s “revenge win”:
In the semifinals, Rutgers Prep will face Somerville (9-5), which beat 7-seed Pingry 9-8. The Pioneers lead the game 7-0 after two, but the scrappy Big Blue clawed back throughout, despite playing its fourth game in as many days. Down 8-3 going into the sixth inning, they scored four times to cut it to one, and once more in the top of the seventh to tie the game at eight.
But Somerville won it in the bottom of the seventh as Tyler Stone reached on a two-out, three-base error, and then Devin McKinley smacked a 1-2 pitch back up the middle for a walk-off single.
AUDIO: Somerville head coach Chris Banos talks about the Pioneers’ dramatic win:
On the other side of the bracket, top-seed Ridge was a 13-3 winner over 9th-seed Gill St. Bernards, as the Red Devils (13-1) picked up their 12th straight win, while they continue to rise in the statewide rankings. Though Gill took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, Ridge exploded for six in the bottom of the inning, and led 11-1 after three. Eight Ridge hitters knocked in runs in a balanced attack, with none driving in more than two runs in the game. Julian Keilb and Andrew Shawah each had triples in the game, and Ridge continued its aggressive base-running – a season-long trademark – stealing seven bases in the game.
Ridge will face fourth-seed Bridgewater-Raritan, as the Panthers (8-7) beat 5th-seed Watchung Hills 5-3. Since losing four straight in mid-April, Bridgewater has turned it around, winning four of their last five, and three-in-a-row against Somerset County Competition. The Warriors jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two innings, but BR held them after that, and chipped away, taking a 5-3 lead in the fifth on the strength of a four-run inning, fueled by a three-run homer by Frankie Verano, his first of the season.
In the May 9th semifinals at TD Bank Park, Rutgers Prep and Somerville will square off in the 4 pm game, while Ridge and Bridgewater-Raritan will play in the 7 pm game.
You can hear both on Central Jersey Sports Radio with Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas calling all the action. The games are brought to you in part by Bellamy & Son Paving, and Zoned Sports Academy in Bridgewater.