In the first inning Thursday, Stephen Young struck out Woodbridge leadoff man AJ Bosch, but walked the next two batters. After a double steal, he found himself in a second-and-third, one-out jam.
So he did what he always does in that situation: strike out the next two batters and head back to the dugout.
After the Middlesex senior unofficially threw 30 pitches in the first inning, he bore down and never tossed more than 17 in the next six. Ultimately, he fanned 12, struck out the side three times, allowed six baserunners all game, two hits, retired the last eight batters he faced, and added two insurance runs at the plate with a double in a three-run fifth inning that gave the Blue Jays some breathing room.
And with the 5-0 win, Group 1 Middlesex (17-3, 13-3) – playing up in the GMC White Division for the first time in school history – won the pennant outright thanks to a 5-0 victory over the Barrons (16-4, 12-4).
It was Woodbridge starter Eddy Nunez who was cruising early, going one-two-three in the first and second innings, not allowing a baserunner until the third, not allowing a hit until the fourth. But that hit was a two-out double by Chris Hopf, Jr., and Matt Venutolo drove in courtesy runner Colin Deem to make it 1-0, the only run it turned out the Blue Jays would need.
In the fifth, Middlesex dinked-and-dunked Woodbridge and Nunez – who took the loss – to death.
Aidan Kozak reached on a one-out infield hit, and Mike Salvatore did the same on a hit-and-run. His slow roller right down the middle between first and second actually drove Kozak to third. Woodbridge first baseman Ty Kobylakiewicz was holding the runner on, and when Kozak attempted to steal, second baseman Drew Lukachyk covered second leaving a gaping hole, making him run a log way to get the ball as it died on the edge of the outfield grass. That’s when Young’s single made it 3-0, and after a fly-out, the third infield hit of the inning – this one Bobby Ulmer, Jr. – made it 4-0.
Winning the White Division title means Middlesex will go on the board first from the White at the GMC seeding meeting, and there will be some intrigue to see how many Red Division teams get taken ahead of Middlesex.
Any team would love to avoid the four or five seed, which would mean avoiding likely top-seed St. Joseph-Metuchen until the finals.
Central Jersey Sports Radio will have live Twitter coverage of the seeding meeting, starting at 9 am. Follow on Twitter @CJSportsRadio.
Click below for postgame reaction from Middlesex’s win over Woodbridge: