To paraphrase the dating cliche, Larry Santowasso told Zach Fronio, “It’s not you, it’s him.”
That was the gist of the Rutgers Prep veteran skipper’s decision to go with Max Treonze in Tuesday night’s Somerset County Tournament final over Zach Fronio, the uber-talented sophomore who’s already committed to go to Maryland.
And boy, did it pay off.
Treonze pitched a complete game shutout, giving up six hits, no walks, while striking out eleven, the last of which gave Prep the county crown.
He came into the game with a 0.25 ERA, and lowered it to 0.20. He’d given up one earned run all year, a number that still stands. As wonderful as Zach Fronio may be, how could you ignore those numbers?
Well, that was only the first good call of the day by Santowasso, a decision he made no later than early this morning. And his decisions just kept getting better.
Like in the first inning, after Ethan Nepomuceno led off with a second-pitch double, Santowasso had his number-two hitter, Evan Laub, bunt. That might be a head-scratcher against any other opposing pitcher who shows signs of being a mortal, but as it turned out, it made perfect sense against Byrne.
Add to that the fact Ridge wasn’t expecting it. Luke Somelofske wasn’t too far in at third. So, when Laub pulled a bunt right out of the textbook, laying it on the grass down the line, Somelofske – who had a long way to go to get to it – had no play at first, and none at third.
So now it was first and third and nobody out, and Andrew Parisi singled to drive in the first – and only – run of the game, for either team.
Good thing, because Rutgers Prep didn’t get another runner past second base the entire game.
Oh, and back to the decision to go with Treonze over Fronio?
Well, Zach didn’t throw a pitch in the game, but he did throw a perfect strike. He was the cutoff man in the bottom of the seventh with one out on a bloop single to right by Connor Byrne. James Jackman fielded on a hop, threw to Fronio, the cutoff, who fired his only strike of the game – just not from the mound – to catcher Andrew Parisi, who turned, waited and applied the tag to the tying run for the second out of the inning, stealing the momentum from Ridge, and grabbing the trophy away from the defending champs.
Just call it a routine Win No. 321 for Larry Santowasso.
Click below to hear Rutgers Prep head coach Larry Santowasso recap and breakdown some of the key plays in the Argonauts’ 1-0 win in over Ridge in the Somerset County title game.