By Ryan Fennell
Red Bank – It seemed one big inning would be all the Caseys needed to steal the lead, and the game, away from Manalapan last Friday in the first round of the Monmouth County softball tournament.
The Caseys are still waiting for that inning.
Manalapan, and starting pitcher Caitlin Gee, shut down the Caseys for seven innings to take a 7-0 victory into the next round against top-seeded Saint John Vianney.
Gee pitched a complete game shutout allowing only two hits while striking out seven. Gee did walk five batters, but no Caseys’ runner reached third base in the game.
“In key situations we didn’t make good decisions,” said Red Bank Catholic head coach Tony Flego. “We prepared ourselves properly to play, we just didn’t execute. We did not execute our game plan at the plate. We didn’t do what we had to do.”
The Caseys’ best opportunities to score came in the second and fourth innings.
Brynne Bauman led off the bottom of the second with a walk and quickly stole second. After Morgan Chayes struck out looking on three pitches, Sarah Dnistrian worked a walk to put two on with one out, and the Caseys only down 1-0 at this point.
However, Gee struck out Dakota Chayes and Colleen Signorelli to retire the side and end the Caseys threat.
With one out in the fourth, Bauman again got RBC started by singling to left. After Morgan Chayes flew out to center, Dnistrian worked another walk to move Bauman into scoring position, but Dakota Chayes grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning and Gee once again escaped, this time leading 4-0.
Errors in the field led to three more runs for Manalapan with two in the sixth and one in the seventh.
Five of Manalapan’s seven runs in the game came with two outs.
“I thought we were in it the whole game,” Flego said. “Even when we were down 4-0, I thought we could come back. We just couldn’t get anything going.
“We have to play error free, and we have to hit the ball,” he added.
Manalapan took an early 1-0 lead in the first when Jackie Tsang smoked a two-out triple to left and scored on an infield single by Cassie Hrevnak. Hrevnak lined a 1-1 pitch back to the mound but the ball glanced off Caseys’ pitcher Emily Simon’s glove and trickled toward short as Tsang scampered home.
Tsang was 3-for-4 on the day adding a single in the third and a two-run double to right with the bases loaded in the sixth.
Manalapan went up 2-0 in the third when Amanda Dipietrantonio smashed a two-out solo homerun to deep left-center.
The Braves went ahead 4-0 in the fourth when, again with two outs, Amy Lagomarsino singled to left and Chandler Matcovich drew a walk and both advanced on a wild pitch. Francesca Marchese followed with another base-on-balls to load the bases for Lauren Schwartz who walked on four pitches. Dipietrantonio knocked in the second run of the inning with an infield single before Tsang grounded into a fielder’s choice at second to end the inning.
Tsang drove in two more in the sixth with her bases loaded double to right, which would have cleared the bases had the ball not rolled under a fence in right resulting in a grounds-rule double. Schwartz knocked in the seventh and final run for the Braves with two outs in the seventh with a single to left.
“It was a good bounce-back win for us after losing in the bottom of the seventh to Middletown North [3-2 on April 25],” said Manalapan head coach Chris Hoffman. “Caitlin Gee carries us for the most part. She’s kept us in every game since I’ve been here [two years]. We’ve been in every game because of her and it’s nice to see the infield and outfield back her up.”
Manalapan did not commit an error in the game and struck out only twice in seven innings.
The ninth-seeded Braves take on Saint John Vianney in the second round of the MCT. Manalapan lost 1-0 to the Lancers in last year’s Monmouth County Tournament.
“We’re excited to face them again,” Hoffman said.