Eric Cartafalsa powers Washington Twp. baseball to Diamond Classic win

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Washington Township’s Eric Cartafalsa throws against Bordentown during the seventh inning of the Diamond Classic baseball tournament first round on Saturday.

Eric Cartafalsa tried a couple of different things on Saturday.

The Washington Township senior batted for the first time in four years, with predictable results.

“I was telling the catcher, ‘Don’t laugh at me but this is my first at-bat since eighth grade,’ ” Cartafalsa said of his plate appearance, which ended with a called third strike.

Cartafalsa’s other change worked out a lot better.

Operating strictly from the stretch, Cartafalsa pitched four scoreless innings of relief as Washington Township beat Bordentown, 2-1, in the opening round of the 45th annual Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic.

Cartafalsa struck out six and retired the final 10 batters in order for Washington Township (11-10), which advanced to face the Holy Spirit, a 3-1 winner over Shawnee, in next Saturday’s quarterfinals.

The Diamond Classic semifinals and finals are set for Sunday, May 20.

“I was throwing in the bullpen and something was mechanically off when I threw from the windup,” Cartafalsa said. “I was throwing better from the stretch. My velocity seemed better. So I just pitched from the stretch.”

Seniors Lorenzo Morello and Anthony Buffone delivered RBI singles in the fifth inning for Washington Township, which is 8-0 this season in games on its home field.

Junior Chris Wade rapped an RBI double and sophomore righthander Nick Nemes, making his first varsity start, worked six strong inning for Bordentown (16-5).

“Man, did he battle,” Bordentown coach Chris Glenn said of Nemes. “We talked about wanting to come out and represent our school and Burlington County as well as we could, and we did that.”

Washington Township bunched three of its five hits in the fifth. Christian Kane led off with a single, stole second and score on Morello’s sharp single to centerfield.

Morello took second on the throw to the plate, advanced to third on a fly ball and scored the go-ahead run when Buffone dropped a bloop single down the right-field line.

“It wasn’t hit the way I wanted but I’ll take it,” Buffone said.

Washington Township sophomore Nick Hammer pitched the first two innings, but left after one throw in the third with tightness in his right biceps.

“I just didn’t want to take a chance,” Washington Township coach Bob Kelly said of the decision to remove Hammer from the game.

Junior Marc Rodriguez pitched the third inning for the Minutemen, striking out two.

Cartafalsa entered the game with one on and no outs in the fourth. Relying mostly on a live fastball, Cartafalsa allowed one hit. He struck out the side in the fifth and ended the game with another strikeout.

“His velocity was good,” said Buffone, the team’s catcher.

Kelly said Cartafalsa raised his game after the Minutemen took the lead in the fifth.

“He’s become a fierce competitor,” Kelly said. “You could see in those last innings, he had the mindset that, ‘This is our game. I’m getting this done.’ ”

Cartafalsa said he wanted to finish strong and helped the Minutemen advance to the second round of the tournament that they won in 2013.

“I said, ‘OK, this is our game, this is my game,’ ” Cartafalsa said. “I wanted to make sure I battled the whole time and said, ‘This is our win.’ ”

Washington Twp. 000 020 0 – 2 5 1

Bordentown 000 100 0 – 1 3 0

WP: Eric Cartafalsa. LP: Nick Nemes.

2B: B-Chris Wade.