JERSEY SHORE - When you play all three aspects of of baseball well, you put yourself in a position to win the game.
That was the script followed by Jersey Shore Monday night as Post 36 won 3-0 at Watsontown Post 323 in a West Branch Senior Division American Legion game.
"We were able to play good defense, we pitched well and got some timely hits when we needed them and things worked out in our favor," said Shore head coach Todd Rishel.
While Rishel was happy with the well-balanced effort of his club, Post 323 head coach Harold Raup felt that his team had opportunities, but they just didn't capitalize on them.
Those opportunities came in the second inning when they had runners on first and second with one out and failed to score before failing to score again in the sixth when they had runners on second and third, again with only one out.
"We hit the ball hard in every opportunity we had, but unfortunately for us, we hit it right at them," said Raup. "Some nights you have that. Lately for us, those same balls have been doing in the hole and we have been scoring runs. But tonight, we hit it right at them and when that happens, you aren't going to score."
Providing the pitching for Post 36 was Mika Mertz as the portsider went the distance to pick up the win. Mertz only allowed Watsontown three hits, the first one not coming along until one out in the fifth inning. Not overpowering, but effective, Mertz did a good job of mixing up his pitches to strike out five Post 323 batters while issuing a pair of walks.
"Not really," said Mertz when asked if he pitched any differently when Post 323 had runners on base. "I am not making any excuses, but the mound felt uncomfortable to me tonight so I just tried to focus in more when they got runners on. I knew what I had to do and I felt confident in having them hit it on the ground because our defense has been solid all year."
With Mertz and Post 323's David Hitesman locked in a pitching duel through three-and-a-half innings, Shore finally broke through with a pair of runs in the fourth.
Zach Miller reached on an error and Blake Musser followed with a booming double to left to drive Miller across the plate with the game's first run. Two pitches later, Musser made it 2-0 when he scampered home on a wild pitch offered by Hitesman.
Post 323 000 000 0 -- 0 3 2
Post 36 000 201 X -- 3 5 1
W: David Hitesman, Jarod Bender (6) and Matt McAndrew. JS: Mika Mertz and Christian Rishel. WP: Mertz. LP: Hitesman.
2B: W: Dawson Fox. JS: Blake Musser. DP: Watsontown 1, Shore 1. SH -- JS: Ryan Koch, Chris Glunk. LOB: Watsontown 7, Shore 7.