It was as simple as it turned out to be enormous.
Dylan Lugo singled. Dustin McGuinness singled to score Lugo. 1-0 East Brunswick in the top of the first.
Might as well have stopped the game right there.
Despite being just 16-10, the Bears have been playing some solid baseball since May 9. That’s when they stopped a four-game losing streak with a 2-0 win over Edison, and proceeded to win seven of their next ten games heading into Saturday’s sectional matchup with top-seed, defending champion, and Central Jersey Group 4 favorite Middletown South.
And for the 9th-seeded Bears, it was business as usual.
Sure, they missed some opportunities at the plate, but they got what they needed. That’s because junior starter Joe Ditzel went the distance – nothing eye-popping, mind you: four strikeouts, three walks, two hits – in shutting out the Lions, to advance to the CJ4 semis Tuesday at 4 pm at Veterans Park against 5th-seed North Brunswick.
That’s the same team the Bears played just over two weeks ago in a legendary 12-inning GMC Tournament semifinal, losing 1-0 to the Raiders on a walk-off single by Kyle Tarabokia in the bottom of the 12th.
Ace Zack Konstantinovsky pitched in that game, but won’t go Tuesday after throwing seven innings and 101 pitches in a 3-0 win over Northern Burlington, to reach the semis against Jackson Memorial.
Ditzel threw in that GMCT semifinal, allowing just one run in 6 and 2/3 innings. In fact, that’s the only run he’s allowed since April 11, less than two weeks into the season, a span of 33 innings pitched. And he’s now down to a minuscule 0.84 ERA on the season.
Click below to hear head coach Chris Kenney talk about the win over Middletown South with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko: