The Middlesex Blue Jays won their seventh overall state championship – and sixth in the Group Final era – by beating New Providence 4-3 in 13 innings on a walk-off single by senior catcher Mark Geist.
Scorll down to hear the full game broadcast, as originally heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.
The victory was Middlesex’s third straight in walk-off fashion, fourth if you count their mercy-rule walkoff against Florence in the sectional semifinals.
Middlesex won the Central Jersey Group One title 2-1 over Point Pleasant Beach on June 11th on a bases loaded fielder’s choice, which turned out to be a throwing error on the Gulls’ second baseman. As thrilling as it was, the score was only tied at one, and the bases were loaded with nobody out, much less of a pressure situation than would come a few days later.
On the following Monday, trailing 5-3 after allowing a grand slam to South 1 champ Woodstown in the group semifinals, Middlesex was down to its final strike with junior Bobby Ulmer at the plate, and he hit an 0-2 pitch with two out over the left field wall for a grand slam of his own, to give Middlesex a stirring 7-5 win.
Which made it all the more intriguing when the Blue Jays took a slim, 1-0 lead into the seventh against New Providence in the state Group 1 final. Three outs away from a championship, the Pioneers nickeled and dimed Middlesex for three runs to take a 3-1 lead.
But as Middlesex had proven in the postseason, they may be down, but are never out.
They tied the game at three and sent it to extra innings.
Then more extra innings, then still more.
Ultimately, after Stephen Young came on in relief in the seventh and held New Providence scoreless for 6 and 2/3 innings, Middlesex got its shot.
Perhaps fittingly, it was Ulmer – the local legend born just a few days earlier – who got the rally started with a leadoff walk. A sac bunt moved him to second, and a groundout to the right side of the infield moved him to third.
That’s when senior catcher Mark Geist’s seeing eye single between third and short brought home Ulmer with two out, and set off a celebration that continued back in Middlesex with an escort from police and fire trucks when they arrived back home from Veterans’ Park in Hamilton.
Click below to hear the complete game broadcast, including the 45-minute pregame show featuring interviews with players and coaches, as well as Middlesex Athletic Director Mike O’Donnell. Listen as Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino bring you the call: