By Jim Hintelmann
HOLMDEL – Having dropped two regular season baseball games to eventual A Central champion St. John Vianney, losses that cost the Caseys a fifth straight division title, Red Bank Catholic was not about to let it happen a third time.
Playing in the second round of the Shore Conference Baseball Tournament Saturday RBC, which made eight errors in an 11-5 loss to SJV last month, was a different team this time, scoring four runs in both the second and sixth innings to stop the Lancers 8-4.
No. 9 RBC played top-seeded Freehold Township in a quarterfinal game Wednesday. Freehold Township edged the Caseys, 4-3, in the Monmouth County Tournament several weeks ago.
“We embarrassed ourselves the last time we played them (SJV),” RBC coach Buddy Hausmann said, “but we are playing better now and just got that first game out of our heads.”
“They beat us twice in the regular season,” said sophomore Evan Madigan, who had a key 2-run single in the sixth inning. “However, we got the big game today.”
Following a scoreless first inning, RBC got moving in the second inning after Mike Alescio was safe on an error and Tom Merlo singled.
Doug Facendo bunted for a hit and was safe when the ball was thrown away, scoring Alescio. Chris Bender’s RBI infield out scored Merlo and then Michael Spinelli followed with an RBI single.
Brendan Madigan, who had been one of RBC’s hottest hitters recently, then smashed a 2-run homer over the left-centerfield fence to make it 5-0. It was his third homer in the last five games.
“It was a curveball high in the zone,” said Madigan, who will be playing at Florida Atlantic next year. “I still don’t know how it went out. I don’t know any reason why I’m hitting the ball this well.”
“Brendan is playing absolutely great,” Hausmann said. “He can handle the bat and plays very well defensively.”
In the third inning, RBC seemed to revert to its performance of the first game, when SJV capitalized on two hits, two RBC errors, two passed balls and a wild pitch to score four runs and narrow the lead to 5-4.
RBC was a different team this time, though, and played errorless ball the rest of the way.
Al Molina relieved starter Tom Puza in the fourth inning and hurled one-hit ball the rest of the way. RBC, meanwhile, scored four runs in the sixth, capped by Evan Madigan’s bases-loaded single to left.
“It started out as a fastball away,” said Madigan, “but it came inside. I got my bat on the ball and hit it in the hole.”
Matt Kurdewan closed out the inning with another 2-run single and Molina struck out the final two batters to end the game.