Posted by Glenn Fredricks on May 18 2007 at 05:00PM PDT
SOUTH RIVER — The highly-anticipated pitching duel between South Amboy's Brian Seres and Spotswood's Willie Beard more than lived up to the billing. Beard got the best of his counterpart in a matchup of arguably the Greater Middlesex Conference's top two hurlers, tossing a one-hit shutout to lead top-seeded Spotswood to a 2-0 victory over South Amboy in the GMC Tournament quarterfinals Wednesday night at Grekorski Park. Seres was equally superb after a shaky first inning that proved to be his undoing. The senior right-hander yielded one hit, a leadoff double by Mike Hohman, but fell victim to some early wildness in losing for the first time this spring. Spotswood (18-4) pushed across two runs in the first, capitalizing Seres' four walks. Hohman scored the first run on a wild pitch and Mike Collins plated the second with a sacrifice fly to left, and that proved to be enough for Beard. The Rutgers University-bound righty struck out 12 and walked three in a 97-pitch effort. With Seres fanning 12 in six innings, the two pitchers combined for 25 strikeouts in the game that spanned one hour, 29 minutes. "Our goal in any game is to go into the second inning up 2-nothing," said Spotswood coach Glenn Fredricks, whose team earned a semifinal meeting with J.F. Kennedy tomorrow at Middlesex County College. "When you have a guy like Willie on the mound (two runs) becomes even more important. Anytime I look at the mound and see No. 34 out there, I feel comfortable." South Amboy's best scoring opportunity came in the top of the first, as Joe Bongiorno led off with a walk and Seres followed with a lined double to right. Beard settled down to fan Jared Mundy with a 2-2 fastball before catcher Mike Dejoy drilled a liner that appeared destined to plate two. But shortstop Cody Pace made a nice leaping grab, then quickly fired to second to double off Seres and extinguish the threat. "That was huge," Beard said. "Just a heads-up play by Cody and a perfect way to get out of the inning." Both pitchers settled down after their shaky first inning, with neither team recording a hit the rest of the way. South Amboy's only other threat came in the six as Bongiorno walked, stole second and reached third on a wild pitch, but Beard struck out the next two batters to escape unscathed. "He just throws hard," said Seres, who finished 1-for-3 with two strikeouts. "His fastball is explosive." Seres, meanwhile, used his breaking pitch to disrupt a Spotswood lineup that came in batting .383 and averaging 8.4 runs per game. "I just tried to get my curveball working because if I threw my fastball, they were going to tank it," Seres said. "They didn't touch it all game. If I didn't have that one bad inning I would've been fine."


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