Baseball: Eastern beats Shawnee for SJ 4 title

 

By Phil Anastasia

Good teams win games.

Great teams hang banners.

Eastern made history on a scorching hot Friday afternoon, capturing the school's first sectional title in baseball with a 16-6 victory over Shawnee in the South Jersey Group 4 championship game.

"We made a statement -- don't mess with us," said Eastern senior second baseman and leadoff hitter Nick Tierno, who reached base four times, scored three runs and cracked a solo home run.

Junior third baseman Tom Flacco was 3-for-3 with two doubles and a triple and senior pitcher Steve Priolo worked a complete game and also rapped three singles for Eastern (27-3), which advanced to face Central Jersey champion Hunterdon Central in the state semifinals Tuesday at Monmouth University.

"We showed we were capable of winning the South Jersey title game by 10-running a team," Flacco said. "That's a statement."

The Vikings rapped 16 hits and scored in every inning except the fifth.
They scored seven times in the first inning, sending 11 batters to the plate and generating seven hits, to seize command of just the second championship game in the history of the program.

"They did the same thing to us all three games," said Shawnee coach Brian Anderson, whose team lost three games to Eastern by a combined score of 39-11.

Shawnee senior centerfielder Jarret DeHart, an LSU recruit, had a two-run double in his last high school game.

"We scored six runs and that's what we were hoping for," Anderson said. "But their 1-2-3-4 hitters did the same thing to us all three games."

Tierno, senior centerfielder Ryan Delaney, Flacco and Priolo -- the top four hitters in the Vikings' lineup -- combined for 11 hits, 11 runs and six RBIs.

Flacco reached base five times, scored four runs and stole two bases.

"I was standing the dugout after he hit the triple in the fourth inning and I'm like, 'How do you stop this kid?'" Tierno said of Flacco. "It's scary. The dude is a beast. He's a freak."

Flacco said the key for the Vikings was to keep grinding for more runs after the seven-run first inning.

"We kept going," Flacco said.

Tierno is part of a deep and talented senior class of players who have been pointing toward this season since they were in middle school.

"For four years we've been knocking on the door, knocking on the door," Tierno said. "To finally knock it down, to know we can come back and see that banner hanging, I'm speechless."

Shawnee 005 100 -- 6 6 4

Eastern 715 201 -- 16 16 1

WP: Steve Priolo. LP: Jake Miller.

2B: S-Jarret DeHart; E-Tim Flacco 2, Alex Bussison.

3B: S-Dylan Mengel; E-Tom Flacco, Ben Hoffman, Matt Marella.

HR: E-Nick Tierno.

Contact Phil Anastasia at panastasia@phillynews.com. Follow @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.

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