Officially, the play would go as a throwing error for missing the cutoff man on a triple, allowing the batter to score. But for all intents and purposes, it was just about an in-the-park home run.
A.J. Bosch never looked behind him. He didn’t see right fielder Luke Somelofske run past the ball as it fell just inside the foul line. Didn’t see the throw miss the cutoff man behind second base and go into the outfield. And he didn’t see the throw that came way too late to catch him after he dove head first into home plate to score the go-ahead run.
All that happened with one out in the eleventh inning, after the leadoff man, Dean Fiore, tried to bunt for a base hit and popped it foul behind the plate, where it landed in the glove of catcher George Busnach.
All of a sudden, it was 5-4 Woodbridge. But still, the Barrons and their fans could not exhale.
That’s because Ridge, with two outs, loaded the bases on an E6 and a pair of walks, before Eddie Nunez got Matt Aber to pop up to second baseman Drew Lukachyk to end an epic, marathon, wacky ballgame in the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 semifinals, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.
Final: Woodbridge 5, Ridge 4, in 11 innings, and now the Barrons have a crack at their first-ever state sectional title.
It sure wasn’t without a lot of grief for both teams.
Combined, they left 24 men on base: 13 for Ridge, 11 for Woodbridge. Combined, there were six errors in the game: four for the Red Devils, including a pickoff move that sailed wide in the first, and two for the Barrons. And it rained for most of the first few innings, even if only a very light drizzle.
And yet, Woodbridge was in control most of the way, if only because they never trailed.
They scored in the top of the first on a bloop RBI single by Drew Lukachyk, but Ridge got it right back on a two-out single by Matt Aber.
Woodbridge went ahead 3-1 in the third on an bases loaded walks by Tyler Webster and Bosch, but Ridge got an RBI single by Luke Somelofske following a one-out triple by George Busnach in the fourth, and an RBI triple by Mile Olivo in the 5th to tie it at three.
No one would score until the Barrons score in the top of the ninth, in extra innings. With two out, Brett Lukachyk walked. On a Josh Vazquez hit to second, Andrew Shawah stopped a hard hit ball in the hole, had no play to first, but saw Lukachyk going for third. His throw was wide, went to the fence, and Lukachyk came in to score on the E4.
But then Ridge would tie it in the bottom of the inning. After a leadoff single by Somelofske and a sac bunt by Andrew Shawah moved him to third, Eddie Nunez came in to pitch. After Matt Shawah struck out, Brian Leitz hit a ball to the right side that first baseman Shawn Kish – in for the injured Ty Kobylakiewicz – fielded in front of the second baseman. He threw to Nunez covering at first but he couldn’t get there in time. Somelofske, scored, tie game again – but not before two intentional walks heightened the tension and Nunez got Matt Aber to strike out to keep things going.
That’s when the eleventh inning heroics by Woodbridge kicked in, sending the Barrons to the North 2 Group 4 final, where they will try and make history Friday, visiting top-seed Hunterdon Central.
Nunez got the win in relief for Woodbridge (25-6) to improve to 9-2 on the year; Mike Olivo took the loss in relief for Ridge (24-2) to fall to 5-1.
Click below to hear live postgame reaction on the air with hero A.J. Bosch, reliever Eddie Nunez, and head coach Mike Monaco: