By: Dylan Mannon
On the surface it may be easy enough to chalk this one up to a low scoring pitchers duel, but if you had the opportunity to watch this one through, you would know that it was much more than that. Late game heroics from Hopewell Valley’s Jack Haynes put the Hopewell Valley Bulldogs on top of the Nottingham Northstars on Friday afternoon, and they never looked back. The game ended with a score of 3-1 in favor of Hopewell Valley, extending their record to 11-6.
Nottingham started the game off hot with a single from Nick Rocco and a double from catcher Wyatt Baker (1-4 2B, RBI). Unfortunately for Nottingham, Hopewell Valley’s lefty, Dylan Joyce, settled in and struck out three batters in the inning. Joyce ended his day with nine strikeouts after six innings.
Hopewell struck first in the bottom of the third inning. Kenny Tagliareni singled and advanced to second on a ball in the dirt. Haynes (2-3 1B, 2B) came up big with a hard hit RBI single through the right side of the infield to score Tagliareni.
It took two innings for Nottingham to tie up the ball game. After a dominant four innings, Joyce walked three straight batters to start the top of the fifth. The Northstars only RBI came off the bat of Baker. With the bases loaded Baker managed to put a ball deep enough to left field that allowed Zac Given to tag up and score.
When asked about his approach at the plate with runners in scoring position, the Nottingham catcher touched on his approach. “Just take a deep breath, pretend there’s no one on and no one out. Just get a hit,” said Baker.
Joyce got himself out of the jam and let his offense take over from there. In the bottom of the fifth, Tagliareni found himself on base after another hard hit ball through the infield. Up stepped Haynes and to nobody’s surprise, he produced for the Bulldogs. Haynes roped a double down the right field line allowing Tagliareni to score easily.
In the bottom of the sixth inning pinch hitter Dylan Eng decided they weren’t done scoring when he singled to right. He later scored on a Tony St. John sacrifice fly to give Hopewell Valley just enough cushion to hang on.
Down two runs in the top of the seventh did not discourage the Nottingham Northstars from making a late game push. Northstar’s shortstop, Given, (1-2 2B, BB) smoked a double down the left field line off of reliever Jack Haynes. Haynes responded with a strikeout, but followed that up by walking Nick Rocco. There was no shortage of drama in this one as Haynes struck out his second batter in the inning, but allowed both runners to advance on a wild pitch. Ultimately Haynes finished what he started when he got Torin McKenzie to ground out on a 3-2 count to Tagliareni over at second base to end the game.
After the win, Hopewell Valley will take on Princeton on Monday, while Nottingham will take on the dominant Notre Dame Fighting Irish.