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  • Writer's pictureDan Russoman

Hammonton cruises past Atlantic City in opener

Gavin West slides in safely for a run in Hammonton’s opening game win against Atlantic City. West tripled and drove in four runs in the victory for the Blue Devils. (THG/Dan Russoman.To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

HAMMONTON—Gavin West scored twice and drove in four runs to help lead Hammonton High School’s baseball team to a 17-7 win against Atlantic City in its season opener on April 22.

West, a sophomore center fielder, had a three-RBI triple that highlighted a nine-run first inning rally for the Blue Devils who rolled to a win in their first game since May of 2019.

“Their [Atlantic City] coach said they were missing a few guys who were suspended, but we just came out here and took care of business,” Hammonton coach Gregg Silvesti said.

Hammonton jumped on Atlantic City starter Chris Casella in the bottom of the first inning, sending 14 batters to the plate and taking a 9-0 lead.

The first five Blue Devils all reached base, with Jared Beebe’s single driving in West for the game’s first run. Two batters later, Joe Perna singled in a run, and David Humphries followed with a sacrifice fly for a 3-0 lead.

With the bases loaded, West launched a long fly ball to the gap in left center, clearing the bases and putting Hammonton up 7-0. Later in the inning, Lucas DeStefano added an RBI single.

In the second, the Blue Devils added six more runs as West had a sacrifice fly RBI and Matt McAleer, Drew Haines and Perna added RBI singles before Anthony Leo’s hit drove in two more.

“With a team like them, that’s maybe not as good as us, you don’t want them to hang around. We put them away early. We kind of let them back in a little bit, but we got it done,” Silvesti said.

While Hammonton’s lineup was battering Casella, Blue Devils starter Humphries cruised through the first two innings, striking out the first six batters he faced. The southpaw ran into a little trouble in the third, when he walked a hitter and allowed an RBI single to Ryan Master.

Atlantic City added five more runs in the top of the fourth, as a pair of Hammonton errors opened the door for a Vikings rally.

The Devils put a run on the board in the fourth on Matt Grasso’s RBI single, then clinched the win in the bottom of the fifth when Beebe drove in Billy McAllister.

Humphries earned the win, striking out eight in three innings of work.

“I was planning on using him [Humphries] the whole game today, so he’s available Sunday or Monday for us. He’s probably our number one right now and he had it working today. He’s got that ball that tails and he’s a tough lefty,” Silvesti said.

In addition to driving in the clinching run, Beebe finished with three hits, two runs and two RBIs. Perna added two hits and two RBIs and Haines went 3-for-3 with three runs and an RBI. Humphries drove in three while going 2-for-2.

In its next game, Hammonton scored a run in the top of the sixth inning and tacked on three in the seventh to defeat Northern Burlington Twp. 10-6 in the opening round of the Pop Bobb Tournament at Washington Twp. High School.

Beebe went 4-for-5 in the game with a double and three RBIs. DeStefano added a three-run homer and West finished with three hits.

McAllister earned the win, striking out two.

Later in the day, Hammonton lost to host Washington Twp. 5-4. The Blue Devils led 4-1 before the Minutemen scored four times in the bottom of the fifth to pull out the win.

DeStefano drove in two runs for Hammonton, Beebe added two hits and Haines scored twice in the loss.

Earlier this week, Hammonton hosted Egg Harbor Twp. but that game ended too late for this edition. On April 28, the Blue Devils play at Absegami at 4 p.m. and on April 29, they visit Haddonfield at 4 p.m.


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