Inning after inning, after inning after inning, after inning after inning, zeroes kept going up on the scoreboard at Ray Cipperly Field in East Brunswick.
For three hours and seven minutes, 6th seed North Brunswick and 7th seed East Brunswick battled and battled. Four pitchers dealt, and dealt, and dealt some more.
No one could push anything across in Game One of the GMC Tournament semifinal doubleheader.
Of course, there were very few chances, either.
The Bears and Raiders battled for 11-and-a-half innings. Then, in the bottom of the 12th, the unthinkable happened.
Someone crossed home plate safely.
Rutgers-bound senior Zack Konstantinovsky – who threw six innings of three-hit shutout ball working on a 64-pitch count after throwing in Monday’s first round – strode to the plate. He was the DH for himself, so he could remain in the game on offense after he was relieved by Kyle Anderson; more on that later.
Pinch runner Chris Rosario was on third – after reaching on an error, and being sacrificed over on a bunt by Frandy Martinez – and EJ Accetura – a meaningless run – was on second.
Konstntinovsky drilled the first pitch from Aaron Warner over right fielder Vincent LaRocca’s head, and that was the ballgame, sending North Brunswick (17-8) to the finals for the first time since it went to the title game back to back in 2009 and 2010, losing both.
Kyle Anderson got the win for North Brunswick, while Warner took the loss for East Brunswick (13-11).
Click below to listen to Justin Sontupe’s call of Zack Konstantinovsky’s walk-off single to send North Brunswick to the GMC Tournament Finals, as heard live on Central Jersey Sports Radio:
Next Saturday at 2 pm, the Raiders will face top-seed St. Joseph of Metuchen, which beat 5th-seed Woodbridge 10-1 in Saturday’s second semifinal.
And it will likely be a matchup of two of the top pitchers in the GMC, with Konstantinovsky expected to take the mound for North Brunswick against St. Joe’s Rutgers-bound senior Andrew Goldan.
Click below for postgame reaction from North Brunswick’s win over East Brunswick in the GMC Tournament semifinals:
Notes and Nuggets:
Few chances: Normally in a game, having baserunners on in six different innings would be a good thing and mean some scoring chances. East Brunswick did that Saturday, but in a 12 inning game. The Raiders had men on base in eight of the 12, and four of the first seven.
Efficient Zack: Konstantinovsky knew he could only throw 64 pitches, and he made the most of them. He struck out six – giving him 100 Ks on the season against just one walk, and no hit batsmen – and allowed only three hits. One of those was an infield hit, the other was a perfectly-laid down bunt by the Bears’ Christian Bermudez. In fact, East Brunswick didn’t hit a ball in play into the outfield until Bermudez’ double in the sixth. Zack K then retired Dylan Lugo on a sac bunt, Ryan Basham on a ground out to second, and struck out Jack Nelson to end the inning – on his 64th pitch.
Super Sophomore: Kyle Anderson was masterful in relief of Konstantinovsky. After allowing the first two hitters he faced to reach base, he stranded them at second and third, getting two strikeouts and a fly out to right. After that, he allowed just three baserunners the rest of the way.
More relief, please: Not to be lost in Anderson’s effort, with Mike Marchese on a 71 pitch count, but not quite as efficient, East Brunswick coach Chris Kenney had to go to his bullpen in the fifth. Joseph Ditzel was solid, too, like Anderson, scattering just two hits over seven innings of work, pitching the fifth through the 11th.
Long, but not the longest: Though 12 innings felt like a lot – with the game time temperature about 80 degrees going up to 93 with a heat index of 97 by the time the final out was recorded – it wasn’t the longest game in GMC Tournament history. They would have had to play five more innings to reach that. On May 5, 2011, Perth Amboy outlasted Sayreville 2-1 in a quarterfinal game played under the lights at East Brunswick High School. Ironically, that same night, the Phillies beat the Reds at home, 5-4, in 19 innings.