SPOTSWOOD 7, KENNEDY 2
WOODBRIDGE — The Spotswood High School baseball team has made it a bit of habit this season to strike big in one inning. Saturday's Greater Middlesex Conference crossover at John F. Kennedy was no exception.
The Chargers scored six runs in the fifth inning to down the host Mustangs, 7-2.
Spotswood senior captain Cody Pace got things started in the sixth inning with a long single to right field. Sophomore Matt Mangarella scored Pace with a hit. Mike Liming's RBI single over the head of a J.F. Kennedy outfielder made it 3-1. Liming reached third on a stolen base and an error, then scored on a balk.
Senior Anthony Pietanza punctuated the inning fittingly with a two-run homer to put Spotswood up 7-1.
"I didn't think it was gone," Pietanza said of the first homer of his career. "I just put my head down and started sprinting. And then I was halfway to third, everyone was screaming it was gone. I slowed down and had a huge smile on my face."
Pace said, "We jumped on them early, 1-0. They answered back. But we rallied in the fifth. That's usually our inning. We usually score five or six runs in that inning. And it's usually one inning a game. And that was it today, that's what sealed it up. Our game plan was basically to come in, jump on whoever's pitching for them, get a bunch of runs and trust our defense behind us. That's basically how it went."
The big inning made a winner of freshman Kevin Martin, who allowed two hits in the complete-game effort. Martin followed Spotswood's six-run outburst with a relatively easy inning — a double play and a pop out.
"Spotswood just outhit us," J.F. Kennedy coach Jerry Smith said. "As far as our starting pitcher (junior Emil Kranz), he did everything I asked him to. I told him if you get us three innings, we'll be happy, because it was only his second start varsity-wise. From a coaching standpoint, I didn't do my job. I didn't have anybody ready.
"So all of the sudden, I thought he was cruising along. It was 1-1. It takes one big inning. I wasn't prepared. And since I wasn't prepared, the boys had to suffer. The loss is on me. In that situation, it won't happen again."
Things did not seem to go the Mustangs' way all day. Even when Spotswood outfielders collided in the sixth inning, the Chargers recorded the out.
Martin simply did his job.
"He wanted the ball against the defending Group III state champs," Spotswood coach Glenn Fredricks said. "He said, "Give me the ball.' For a freshman to come here and do that to a team of that caliber, for Kevin to settle himself down and put the pitches where he wanted, a lot of credit has to go to his catcher Shaun Weeks, too.
"They funnel what we want as coaches right out to the mound. They're not fazed by any situations. That's what playing here at Spotswood is all about."
The Chargers (5-3) ended a two-game slide, while sending J.F. Kennedy (6-3) to its second-straight loss.
"Our kids have a championship pedigree in this program," Fredricks said. "They know you're only as good as your last game. So we had to erase some doubts about ourselves and I think we did that