Blackwood 11-Year-Olds Outlast Haddonfield
A five-run third inning proves crucial as Blackwood defeats Haddonfield 6-4 to advance to Section 4 title game on Sunday night at 5 p.m. Haddonfield will play an elimination game on Saturday night at 5 p.m.
LINWOOD—Blackwood Kiwanis manager Ben Zanghi made a statement that summed up Friday night's Section 4 tournament game between Blackwood and Haddonfield.
“Ninety percent of ball games are won in one inning,” he said. “And in that one inning, the team that wins usually scores more runs than the other team does the entire game.”
This rang true on Friday as Blackwood used a five-run third inning to propel themselves to a 6-4 win over Haddonfield, sending them to the 11-year-old Section 4 championship game on Sunday night.
Haddonfield, with its first loss of the tournament, will need to win an elimination game on Saturday night against either Millville or Northfield to earn a spot in the title game and a rematch with Blackwood. The game will be at 5 p.m. at Linwood Little League.
Blackwood's big third inning made the difference in the game. Entering the frame down 2-0, Blackwood sent 10 batters to the plate in the inning. They were able to kick off the inning by loading the bases with no outs against Haddonfield starter Drew Gavranich. A fielder's choice by Macen Collins and a single by Ben Zanghi scored two runs to tie the game at two.
After Haddonfield changed pitchers, putting in reliever Chris Brown, Blackwood was able to step up big with two clutch hits. Josh Rosa's RBI single gave Blackwood a 3-2 lead. He was followed by Jake McDonnell, whose two-run double to left-center extended the lead to 5-2.
“We were very excited to get our bats going,” said McDonnell. “We were ready to have a big inning.”
Haddonfield got more than its share of hits in the game. They scored the first two runs of the game in the bottom of the second inning. Dylan Heine blooped an RBI single into right field to give Haddonfield a 1-0 lead. That was followed by an R.J. Mroz single to left to make it a 2-0 game.
However, Haddonfield ended up leaving the bases loaded in the inning, which became the theme of the night. Four times Haddonfield left three men on base. In total, they had 15 runners left on base in the game.
“”We didn't put the ball in play,” said Haddonfield manager George Pelose. “Usually we convert those. But tonight, we just didn't have a plan at the plate.”
Much of the later innings were full of big defensive plays that kept the game close. Blackwood would hold a 6-3 lead entering the bottom of the sixth, when Haddonfield made one last surge. John Foley and Jay Foley put together back-to-back hits to put runners on second and third with one out in the inning. A walk by Lance Fourbaugh allowed Haddonfield to load the bases and send the potential winning run to the plate.
Blackwood responded by putting in Marc-Anthony Rodriguez to pitch. He responded by striking out two of the next three batters to close out the win for his team.
“They're a good hitting team and they threatened us all day,” said Zanghi. “All these teams left here are good teams.”
Pelose expects his team to bounce back after Friday's disappointing performance. There's no room for error left as Haddonfield enters the loser's bracket on Saturday.
“They were flat today, that was the flattest I've seen our guys all summer,” said Pelose. “But we're resilient. I know these guys can came out and win tomorrow. So hopefully we'll see (Blackwood) again on Sunday.”
For Blackwood, it doesn't matter who they play. They're hoping to finish off a Section 4 title on Sunday and advance to the state level.
“We've got (Dylan) Maria and Rodriguez pitching, so we're hoping we can finish it off on Sunday,” said Zanghi.