Barnegat Baseball Team Gets Big Effort from Suydam in Win Over Pinelands

By DAVID BIGGY | May 03, 2017
Photo by: David Biggy Barnegat second baseman Justin Diefenbach makes a throw to first base during the Bengals’ 4-0 victory over Pinelands Regional on April 29.

After going 3-8 through its first 11 games, the Barnegat High School baseball team needed a kick in the pants to end April and a big lift as it shifted gears into the second half of the season. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Tyler Suydam provided both on April 29, firing a complete-game three-hitter against Pinelands Regional.

“We needed some more energy and today was a good day to get ourselves moving in the right direction again,” said Suydam, who needed only 62 pitches in a 4-0 shutout, during which he struck out two, walked two, hit a batter, picked off a runner and allowed only four balls to the outfield. “My job was just to throw strikes. The guys behind me made the plays and we had a total team effort. A lot of stuff happened today that can help turn us around.”

Indeed, that was the truth. But there was one key thing the Bengals (5-8) didn’t do – make errors. Heading into the contest, the Bengals had committed 43 miscues, an average of almost four per game, leading to 22 unearned runs. The pitchers also had allowed 49 walks and hit 13 batters, all of which contributed to the lackluster April.

“Walks and errors turn into runs,” said senior shortstop Aaron McLaughlin, who’s headed to Rutgers in the fall. “And when you’re making a lot of errors in the field, you have to take it as a challenge to get better, to help put your team in a better position to win games. Today we met the challenge.”

Following a scoreless first inning, Barnegat scored twice in the home half of the second to grab the only lead it needed. Brian Finucan led off with an infield single and went to third base when Lucas Torres whacked a double to deep right field. Finucan scored on a wild pitch with one out and Torres raced home on a passed ball with two outs to make it 2-0.

The Wildcats (6-6) received their first hit of the game in the top of the fourth when Peter Hammond reached on an infield single with one out, but losing pitcher Noah Dean grounded into an inning-ending double play. In the fifth, Pinelands had runners on first and second after Jimmy Zazenski doubled to right and Sean Crowley walked to lead off the at-bat, but Suydam induced a popup on a sacrifice bunt attempt and a flyout to left before picking off Zazenski to end the inning.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Bengals tacked on two more runs when Torres was hit by a pitch and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Suydam, and scored on a single to left by Liam Corbett, who later scored on a sacrifice fly to center field off the bat of Justin Diefenbach.

In the top of the seventh, Suydam gave up a one-out single to Dean, but Zazenski grounded into a game-ending double play two pitches later. With the victory, the Bengals avenged a 5-1 loss to the Wildcats on April 7.

“Our mental approach has to be different going forward,” McLaughlin said. “We have to be confident and believe in our abilities. We have to believe in each other, because when others believe in you it’s easier to believe in yourself. And we have to start being more relaxed at the plate. A relaxed batter is the most dangerous hitter, and we have to get into the batter’s box with that attitude.”

The Bengals seemed to have that attitude in their 11-3 victory over Brick Memorial on Monday, May 1, as Nik Caputo belted a grand slam home run and Corbett fired a complete game from the mound.

As for the Wildcats, who started 4-1 but have lost five of their last seven contests, they need a victory or two to get themselves back into a winning rhythm, especially with the Ocean County Tournament coming up.

“Today, we couldn’t get that big hit when we needed it,” said coach Rob Zanzari following the loss to Barnegat. “During our first four wins of the season, we hit the ball. Lately, we haven’t been able to get the runs when we needed them. But that’s why they’re called slumps. We just have to work through it.”

With a home contest scheduled against Point Pleasant Borough on Tuesday, May 2, and Donovan Catholic on Thursday, May 4, along with a May 6 game in Matawan, Pinelands has the opportunity for a three-game win streak as it stares down its last third of the season.

“I think we’re gearing for a good stretch of games here,” Zanzari said. “Last year we ended up 10-13 and right now we’re 6-6. We have a young team and these kids are capable of putting together a string of wins at any time. We just need some bats at the back of the batting order to get going.”

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