Baseball State Tourney Roundup

Torres Leads Barnegat Baseball Team to State Tournament Victory Over Delsea

By DAVID BIGGY | May 22, 2019
Photo by: David Biggy Barnegat’s Lukas Torres fires to the plate in the fourth inning of the Bengals’ 10-5 win over Delsea in the first round of the NJSIAA South Jersey Group II tournament on May 20.

Barnegat Township — The rumor buzzing around inside the dugout when Lukas Torres went to the mound during the fourth inning was that the Barnegat junior wasn’t too fond of pitching. After the Bengals’ baseball team knocked off Delsea on May 20, Torres smiled when asked about his alleged dislike for taking the hill.

“It’s not so much that I don’t like pitching,” the junior revealed. “I just prefer being in the field for defense. I feel more comfortable playing out there, where I believe I can contribute more.”

Torres contributed plenty against the Crusaders, first by shutting down Delsea after coming on to relieve starter Matt Vernieri and throwing four scoreless innings, and secondly with his bat during a five-run fifth that sealed a 10-5 win in the first round of the NJSIAA South Jersey Group II tournament.

“The coaches were confident enough to bring me in to pitch in a tough situation, and my only focus was to throw strikes,” Torres said. “The coaches talk about staying calm and maintaining composure in those situations, and that’s what I did.”

After a wild first three innings, during which the seventh-seeded Bengals (11-12) and 10th-seeded Crusaders (7-13) played a back-and-forth game of taking advantage of each other’s miscues, Delsea managed to load the bases with none out in the top of the fourth before Barnegat head coach Dan McCoy lifted Vernieri and called on Torres, who had been playing first base.

Torres induced a pair of popups to shortstop and second base, then struck out the next batter to keep the score knotted at 5-5. After neither squad scored during its next at-bat, the Bengals jammed the bases for No. 9 batter Kyle Moore, who whacked a deep fly ball to center field, which allowed Dexter Dambroski to tag up and easily score from third base to make it 6-5.

Torres then stepped into the batter’s box and fouled off a few pitches before swatting a line drive near the left-field line to bring in Matt Scott and Stever Meier, both of whom had walked. With Torres on third and Tyler Suydam on second, Sean Lucas hit a chopper that hopped past the shortstop’s glove and into left field, scoring both runners for a 10-5 lead.

From there, Torres kept the Crusaders in check, allowing just one baserunner – on a come-backer that he managed to stop with his foot but couldn’t recover in time to throw out the batter at first – during the final two innings, fanning the final batter to send the Bengals into the quarterfinals to meet second-seeded West Deptford. Lucas ended up 3-for-4, while Dambroski finished 2-for-3.

“I was confident we’d score enough and get the win,” Torres said. “Our guys were really into the game, we had good support from our fans, and we just had to make sure we did the little things right during the last few innings.”

Pinelands Regional Advances
To Quarterfinals

Two years ago when Pinelands Regional faced off against Toms River South in the Shore Conference Tournament, the Wildcats didn’t have enough in the tank to knock off the Indians. On May 20, the ’Cats dealt the Indians from the South Jersey Group III tournament in the first round – a rarity for South.

After eighth-seeded Toms River South (13-10) grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning, Pinelands hurler Joey Ventresca all but shut down the Indians the rest of the way, scattering seven hits, walking none and striking out six while going the distance. Eventually the Wildcats’ bats came alive, as Pinelands scored three times in each of the last two innings to swipe the victory.

In the sixth, ninth-seeded Pinelands (10-9) started off with five straight hits. However, along the way the Wildcats had a run erased when South made a successful appeal at third base, after claiming Bryce O’Rourke didn’t step on the bag while attempting to score on an Anthony Diaz double.

Nonetheless, Rian O’Rourke followed with a single to center field to put runners at first and third before Ventresca delivered an RBI single to make it 2-1. Singles by Billy Crawford and Peter Hammond brought in the next two runs, and Pinelands had a 3-2 lead going into the seventh.

After Diaz doubled in Rian O’Rourke to make it 4-2, Ventresca put the punctuation mark on the victory by hammering a pitch to right-center field for a two-run homer. Ventresca, Diaz and Rian O’Rourke each ended with two hits.

With the win, the Wildcats advanced to meet top-seeded Triton in the quarterfinals on May 23.

— David Biggy

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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