By Brian Deakyne
BAYVILLE – Much like its previous two losses, Red Bank came a play away from pulling off an improbable win last Saturday, but that play never came.
The Bucs got an impressive pitching performance from senior Joe Jacques, but their bats couldn’t come alive in a disappointing 2-1 loss to Toms River South. The game was the second portion of a double header of the Strike Out Autism Baseball Challenge at Central Regional High School.
Jacques allowed two runs on three hits over six innings and struck out six batters en route to the loss, giving Red Bank its best outing on the mound so far this season.
“I knew I had to have my best stuff today against this team,” Jacques said. “It’s 2-1, only had a few mistake pitches and it cost us, obviously, but what are you going to do about it? If we can play with this team, we can play with anyone.”
The Bucs hit the ball better than the Indians throughout the game, but the glaring difference is the timeliness of hitting between the two teams. Toms River South scored both of their runs in the bottom of the third inning. Senior Dylan Dipolvere scored from third base on a wild pitch, and in the next at-bat, junior Russell Messler rocked a solo home run off the scoreboard in left-center field.
Dipolvere reached base on a one-out walk, and was awarded second base when the umpire ruled that Red Bank first baseman Brian Wikoff interfered with Dipolvere on a pick-off attempt.
“In building a program and trying to get these guys to be ready to play, we’re getting there,” Red Bank Regional head coach Louis Dal Pra said. “We’re really battle-tested. Freehold Boro was a good game, Point Boro was a close game, this was a close game. This is the mecca of baseball in Monmouth and Ocean County. To take Toms River South to the last inning, the last out and to think that we’re going to win, it was definitely worth the trip.”
Red Bank made a rally attempt in the top of the fifth inning, when junior Sean O’Connell laced an RBI double down the right field line to score senior designated hitter Cooper Gettis. Gettis led off the inning with a double in the left-center field gap. Red Bank was unable to bring O’Connell in, however, and it never was able to get a run across the plate again.
“We’re going to come out fiery like this,” Jacques said. “We were fiery the whole game. Our problem with us is that the last few games we’ve died in the later innings. But in this game, we had fire the whole time, we just didn’t come up with a win.”
In all, Red Bank scattered six hits against the Indians.
Aside from the third inning, Jacques did everything that was asked of him. Toms River South loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth inning, looking for insurance runs, but he slammed the door closed with an inning-ending strikeout of Clayton Kapp.
“I was throwing a lot of strikes but my curveball was good today and so was my changeup,” Jacques said. “And today I decided I was going to go with a submarine [delivery] in the bullpen. I felt like I had to do something different to throw these guys off because they are very good hitters.”
“Joe [Jacques] was awesome,” Dal Pra said. “He just went out there and did it.”
Despite another good game resulting in a loss, Dal Pra didn’t believe it was all bad. The second-year coach sees a strong improvement in his team and believed that with time, wins will come.
“We’re a hit or two and a call away from being 4-0 right now,” Dal Pra said. “That’s how close we’re getting. So, this team’s going to win a lot of games. We’re 1-3 right now, we feel down about ourselves, but we feel positive that we’re going to stick with the game plan and keep plugging away. We still have to hit the ball.”