Just like Rutgers Prep’s season on the whole, obstacles had to be overcome in order to come out on top.
Sophomore Zach Fronio struck out eleven while Ethan Nepomuceno and Li Perez each drove in two runs to get the third-seeded Argonauts past 6th-seed Morris Catholic Friday in a Non-Public North B quarterfinal game in Somerset.
Fronio picked up his second win of the year (2-2) when it mattered most, in the state tournament, after a 15-day layoff since his last start, a 2-0 loss to Pennington in the Prep B Tournament Final.
But that wasn’t all. The injury bug has been nipping at two starters – Andrew Parisi and Cody Rullo, and neither played today. That put Maddox Chu behind the plate, and he and Fronio worked together masterfully.
Prep scored first in the bottom of the second inning on an RBI single by Nick Pizzie.
Then, after Morris Catholic tied it in the top of the fourth on a sac fly to center by Nate Eckerson, the Argonauts responded with three in their half of the inning, when they sent eight hitters to the plate.
Pizzie led off with a single, and after James jackman struck out, Nepomucino hit an RBI double. Evan Laub singled, then Fronio drove in a run with a ground-out to short, and Chu singled in another run.
Morris Catholic got a run back in the sixth on an RBI single by Alex Kibler, who came in to relieve starter Sean Hegarty on the mound in the top of the inning, with Hegarty batting for himself in the lineup.
But Prep added two more insurance runs in the sixth to make it 6-2. With the bases loaded, Perez hit a ball deep in the hole that was fielded by the shortstop, but the throw to first was not in time and aggressive baserunning by the Argos plated a second run.
Max Treonze – who started at first, but flipped positions with Fronio to close out the game – saw his first action on the mound since getting drilled in the nose with a fastball a couple of weeks ago. He got a first pitch groundout back to him, then hit Nick Scerbak, who got to second on a wild pitch. Then after a walk to Declan Norton and a strikeout for the second out of the inning, Ryan Osterhoudt drove him in with an RBI single.
But that was all they would get as Treonze struck out Kibler to end the game.
The victory puts Rutgers Prep – which won the Somerset County Tournament as the 12-seed after starting the season 1-6 – at 13-4 heading into next week’s Non-Public North B semifinals, where they’ll face the seventh-seed Gill St. Bernard’s. The Knights upset second-seed St. Thomas Aquinas 8-3 Friday afternoon.
According to the NJSIAA state tournament schedule, that game is to be completed by Wednesday, but it could be played a day early, on Tuesday, because Rutgers Prep has its prom Wednesday evening.
Click below for postgame reaction presented by Sportsplex at Metuchen: