TOMS RIVER, NJ – In a game in which both teams were aiming for their first state baseball title, South Plainfield used timely hitting and solid relief pitching from Jake Alba to beat Northern Burlington, 8-4 in Saturday's state Group 3 final at Toms River North.
The winners finished their season 24-8, while Northern Burlington, the Central Jersey Group 3 champion, was 27-5.
"Give South Plainfield credit, they executed well today," Northern Burlington coach Rick Doppler said. "But we are proud of what we did this year."
South Plainfield scored in the first an RBI single by Chris Graves, but the Greyhounds tied it in the bottom of the inning when Zack Wright hit a one-out single and scored on Ryan Shinn's RBI double.
South Plainfield scored four in the third inning to take a 5-1 lead. Graves had an RBI fielder's choice, followed by an RBI base hit by Nick Polizzano, a successful suicide squeeze by Sean Erhardt and then Polizzano scored the fifth run on a wild pitch.
NBC got two back in the third when Shinn tripled and scored on a two-run home run that Brett Parlante crushed to left field.
Trailing 5-3, NBC had its first two runners reach base by walks in the fourth and winning pitcher Jake Alba then relieved starter Vincent Pellegrino. Alba (7-2) then escaped damage by getting two strikeouts and a groundout.
"My curveball was really working today," Alba said.
Shinn (9-1) would last five innings, allowing seven runs after South Plainfield scored on an RBI single and wild pitch in the fifth.
NBC cut the lead to 7-4 in the fifth on an run-scoring groundout by Delaware recruit Adam Rapp.
South Plainfield added a run on a sixth inning sacrifice fly from Ryan Gillen. Shinn, a Florida Gulf Coast recruit, gave credit to the victors."
"They hit the ball today," he said. "They were a great team."
South Plainfield 104 021 0 – 8 9 2
Northern Burlington 102 010 0 – 4 8 2
WP: Jake Alba. LP: Ryan Shinn.
2B: N-Ryan Shinn; 3B: N-Ryan Shinn; HR: N-Brett Parlante.