Mid-Atlantic champs blank Rhode Island
A closer look at the 2-0 Elizabeth, New Jersey win over Barrington, Rhode Island, Tuesday at Lamade Stadium.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Sal Garcia’s aggressive dash home — The game was scoreless with one out and two runners on in the top of the sixth inning. Rhode Island was playing its infield in and Mason Crain cleanly fielded the ball, looked Garcia back at third and threw to first for the second out. As soon as Crain threw, Garcia gambled on his speed and won big. He beat the throw home, giving New Jersey the game’s first run. J.R. Rosado also scored on the play when the ball bounced off the catcher’s glove and went to the backstop as New Jersey took a 2-0 lead.
RHODE ISLAND PLAYER OF THE GAME: Miles Fontaine — The right-hander pitched maybe the game of his life, shining in his biggest game yet. Fontaine was dominant, scattering five hits in 5 2/3 innings. He took a shutout into the sixth inning against a powerful offense and did everything possible to help Rhode Island advance.
NEW JERSEY PLAYER OF THE GAME: Sal Garcia — Whether pitching, fielding, hitting or running, Garcia put on a show and helped his team move on. Garcia threw 2 2/3 innings of no-hit baseball, made several dazzling plays at shortstop, hit the double that ignited the game-winning rally and made the furious sprint home that helped New Jersey took a lead.
BIG INNING: New Jersey’s sixth — In a game dominated by pitching and defense, New Jersey finally delivered an offensive jolt. Garcia hit the inning’s first pitch to the center-field wall for a leadoff double and J.R. Rosado followed a batter later with a single, putting runners on the corners with no outs. Jayden Capindica then hit the grounder that brought Garcia hustling home with the game’s winning run.
BEST EFFORT: New Jersey’s pitching-A Mason Crain two-out, two-strike sixth-inning single broke up New Jersey’s no-hit bid, but Garica, Derek Escobar, Rosado and Capindica were scintillating combining on a one-hitter and striking out seven. Garcia threw 2 2/3 no-hit innings, Escobar 1 1/3 before Rosado brilliantly entered in the fifth with two runners on and no outs and retired the side in order. Escobar struck out the first two batters on six pitches and threw 17 of his first 18 pitches for strikes. Capindica closed out the win with an assist from Escobar who made one of the Series best and most thrilling plays.
FLASHING LEATHER: Both teams put on a defensive clinic last night and, fittingly, Escobar ended the game with a highlight-reel play that will live in Elizabeth lore. Escobar made a fanastic stop as he snared Alex Anderson’s hard smash while going down the line. He then made an incredible throw all the way across the field as first baseman Yadi Mateo stretched out his entire 5-foot-11 frame to record the final out. Rhode Island right fielder Owen Pfeffer made a pretty shoe-string catch to open up the second inning, taking a leadoff hit from Jayden Capindica. New Jersey second baseman Yamil Soto kept a no-hitter in tact when he went to his knees and made an impressive catch on a Cullen Crain line drive. That play helped Sal Garcia close out his 2 2/3 innings pitched on a high note. Rhode Island third baseman James Caldarella showcased his range and arm on one fantastic play that opened the fourth inning. Caldarella reached down the third base line and snagged a hard-hit Yadi Mateo one-hopper and then threw across the field, denying him a leadoff single. Cullen Crain made an absolutely sensational diving catch that robbed Yadi Mateo of a go-ahead, sixth-inning single. Mateo smashed a liner into the hole between short and third base, but Crain stretched his entire body out and made one of the incredible catch to keep the game scoreless.
WHAT THE ADULTS SAY: “Playing baseball with these guys every day, I felt like they were 13 of my sons,” Rhode Island manager Chris Promades said. “It was that great type of bond that we developed. I’ll never forget it. These kids are awesome.”
“We believe in our boys and our teams and that someone is going to step up,” New Jersey manager Jairo Labrador said. “They did such a great job, all these boys. Big moments, I love it.”
WHAT THE KIDS SAY: “Just in the moment I couldn’t really hear coach,” Garcia said of his sprint home. “I don’t know if he was saying anything. As soon as he threw it, I knew I was going to take off.”
WHAT IT MEANS: New Jersey is now one of the top four U.S teams in the country. It has a quick turnaround and plays another elimination game at 11 a.m today when it faces Louisiana. The winner of that game is a victory from reaching the U.S. Final. Rhode Island closed out its remarkable summer-long run with a valiant effort. It was the first Barrington team since 1975 to win a state championship and its first to ever play at the Series.