By: Nick Gallagher
On an overcast evening which became a rainy Saturday night at Bob Demeo Field inside Veterans Park, the #4 seed Hopewell Valley Bulldogs defeated the favorites and #1 seed Hun Raiders 4-0. The win sent them back to the Mercer County Tournament Championship game for a third straight season.
The Raiders were one of the hottest teams coming into the start of the tournament with a 19-1 record. The starting pitcher and ace for the Bulldogs Tony St. John (7 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 8 K 109 pitches) silenced the Raider offense and he made it look easy. “I’m really happy, I can’t believe it but, in a way I can,” St John said.
St. John faced no more than four batters in each inning while only allowing four singles and (one double which wasn’t until the 7th). He never made the Raider offense look comfortable at the plate. St. John credits his coach and catcher for helping him out when asked about what was working tonight. “Pitching coach, I was able to locate very well, [Michael] Boyer behind the plate sticking the pitches perfectly, good strike zone,” said St. John.
The Bulldogs showed why they are the defending Mercer County Champions by taking full advantage of five errors made by the Hun Raider defense. With two quick outs to start the game, it was a Jason Greenzang (0-4, BB) walk that started the two-out rally for the Bulldogs. The next two batters Grayson Russo (0-4, two runs scored ) and Marc Porpora (1-3, one run scored) reached base safely on three throwing errors by the Raider defense which led to the Bulldogs jumping out to the early 2-0 led.
In the second inning, it was a Kenny Tagliareni (1-4) RBI double that scored Josh Gaynor (1-4, one run scored) as the Bulldogs went up 3-0 after the second inning. The bats remained quiet until the sixth inning when Tony St. John (0-3) laid down a gutsy sacrifice squeeze bunt that scored Grayson Russo from third base that gave the Bulldogs their final run of the night to put them up 4-0.
In a season in which the Hun Raiders have been clicking on all cylinders, in all phases of the game, tonight was their lowest point only managing four singles and a double. Two of the hits were by Danny Melnick (2-4, K). The wall the Raiders ran into was the fact that half of their hits were with two outs in the innings. The others were lead off hits that never developed into anything offensively. Hun looks to reset as they now prepare for the NJSIAA Tournament which is set to begin next week.
As Hopewell Valley now turns their attention to Tuesday night’s matchup with Notre Dame at Arm & Hammer Park. Tony St. John said very simply “Score early, stay ahead just like we did today”. The Bulldogs are moving on to the Mercer County Tournament Championship game for the third straight year as they look to repeat as they meet the #3 seed Notre Dame Irish (18-1), Tuesday at Arm & Hammer Park in Trenton. Coverage begins right here on wbcbsports.com at 6:45 with first pitch at 7 pm.
|Hopewell Valley Bulldogs at Hun Raiders|
|Hopewell Valley (15-5)||2||1||0||0||0||1||0||5||4||1|
|W: Tony St John L: Ryan DiMaggio|