Larry Santowasso may have been the Rutgers Prep head coach since before any of his players were every born – Sorry, coach! – but this game was a big one, and with all his experience, he was worried.
Rutgers Prep got its first win of the season after an 0-3 start against Gill St. Bernard’s on April 10th, 25-0. Three touchdowns, a two-point conversion and a field goal.
“When you beat someone convincingly and then you see them in a win-or-go-home game, it brings a lot of nervousness for a coach,” Santowasso said before the game.
Well, he didn’t have to worry for too long.
Third-seed Rutgers Prep scored seven times in the first inning against Gill starter Colin Chou, and chased him before he could even get an out. That was all the Argonauts needed to beat the seventh-seeded Knights 9-0 at Diamond Nation in Flemington Wednesday – as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio – putting them in Saturday’s Non-Public North B sectional final.
Rutgers Prep (14-14) will visit top-seed St. Mary-Rutherford at 10 am Satuday for the title.
It’s the first trip to a sectional title game since 2014, when the Argos lost to St. Joseph-Hammonton, a year going all the way to win a state championship.
Cody Rullo led off the game getting hit by a pitch, Evan Laub singled, and Ethan Nepomuceno walked to load the bases before Zach Fronio hit a sharp single to right to drive in two runs. Maddux Chu also got hit by a pitch, then Li Perez reached on an E3 to make it 3-0. Max Treonze walked to force in another run to make it 4-0. Nick Pizzie grounded to first for the first out, and Chu beat the tag at home to make it 5-0. Then, Rullo – in his second at bat of the inning – hit a two RBI single to make it seven-zip.
After a 1-2-3 first, and with a 7-0 lead, Treonze nearly faltered in the second, allowing a leadoff double and a one-out single, but he ended up striking out the side to keep Gill off the board. He threw five scoreless innings, allowing just three hits, striking out 11 to get the win. He’s now 6-0, with his ERA dropping to 0.17 on the season, allowing just one run in 41 innings pitched.
Prep added a run in the third on a sac fly to center by Laub, and got another in the fourth on a 4-6 fielder’s choice by Perez.
Perez came in to pitch the last two innings, allowing two hits, and preserving the shutout.
Click below for postgame reaction presented by SportsPlex at Metuchen!