Southern Baseball Team Upended in NJSIAA Group IV Semifinals

Jun 14, 2017

After doing what most high school baseball prognosticators deemed as highly unlikely, the Southern Regional baseball team finally met the end of its state-tournament road on June 7, when the Rams fell to defending state champion Hunterdon Central, 5-2, in the NJSIAA Group IV semifinals.

Days earlier, the Rams had won the South Jersey Group IV title with a 6-2 victory over Seneca, earning their first appearance in a state semifinal in 50 years. But after putting pressure on the Red Devils by scoring a pair of runs in the top of the second inning, Southern’s sail lost its wind as Hunterdon Central (24-6) bounced back with three in the bottom of the third.

Southern shook up Central starting pitcher Peter Woltersdorf when Vaughn Walker recorded an RBI with a bases-loaded walk and Cole Markley knocked in another run on a fielder’s choice. But the Red Devils erased the deficit when Mark Saponara swatted a double to left-center field, Matt Padre walked and Andrew Ollwerther hit the wall in center field for a game-tying, two-run triple. Pete Cosentino followed with a single to center to send the Devils ahead, 3-2. Hunterdon Central added runs in the fourth and fifth innings to cap the scoring.

In the last outings of their careers, seniors Pat Barrett, Zach Fillmore and Nick Simone combined on the hill for the Rams, giving up six hits. But those hits were enough to send Hunterdon Central to the Group IV championship, where it lost its crown to Millburn, 10-5, on June 10.

In his final game as a Ram, catcher Nolan Watson went 2-for-3, as did junior Marcos Matias, who whacked a double, while Barrett and classmate Zach Oddo each had a hit. The Rams finished the season 18-9.  —D.B.

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