New Providence Baseball Head Coach Chris Brodeur knew Whippany Park–who won just one game during the regular season–was coming in hot on a three-game winning streak, and could upset the Pioneers when it mattered most.
So, he told his team to take nothing for granted, and it did not, as the Pioneers (16-7, 11-5 UCC) knocked off the Wild Cats, 6-2, in the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 1 NJSIAA Sectional Tournament Championship.
Brodeur said that there was some pressure to win for New Providence, seeing that a four-win team was playing with that Cinderella attitude.
Therefore, losing was not an option for the Pioneers.
“They were hot, so they’re dangerous, right,” Brodeur asked? “And their coaches have kept them in the season this long, not having that success early. So, you tip your cap to something like that. That’s a great team.
“There’s a little pressure (with losing to them), sure, why not? But, one thing about our team, we ride a little bit on adversity,” he continued. “We kind of feel like we can play with a little chip on our shoulder that way sometimes. But, at the same time, the kids rose to the occasion.”
Whippany Park (4-19, 1-14 UCC) struck first to take a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
But New Providence tied up the score on a Jeffrey Policarpio sacrifice fly. A balk forced in another run, and an RBI double made it 3-1 in the bottom of the frame.
The Pioneers enjoyed another big inning in the bottom of the fourth, as they scored three runs to take a comfortable 6-1 advantage.
The Wild Cats scratched out a another run, that narrowed the gap at 6-2.
But the rest of the tilt lied in the lively arm of starting pitcher Jason Graham, whom Brodeur sang his praises after tossing a impressive complete game victory. Graham, for the record, whiffed nine batters and drove in an run.
“Now. Jay Graham is our senior, he’s our captain, he’s our leader,” Brodeur enthusiastically said. “He’s our heart, he’s our emotional center. He brings it. He loves the game; the passion. And just to have him on the mound today, throwing a complete game, and actually, absolutely pitch his his game was phenomenal, and it was great to watch, just to be a part of it.”
New Providence will enjoy its sectional Championship while awaiting their first-round opponent in the New Jersey State Baseball tournament next week.
— Jerry Del Priore