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  • Writer's pictureDan Russoman

Hammonton rolls past rival St. Joseph

THG/Dan Russoman. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940. Hammonton’s Jamison McNally pitches to St. Joseph’s Gavin Ramsi during the first inning of the Blue Devils victory at Hammonton Lake Park on May 9.

HAMMONTON—A pair of big innings, including a five-run rally in the fifth, helped lead Hammonton High School’s baseball team to a 13-4 victory against rival St. Joseph Academy in a game played at Hammonton Lake Park on May 9.

“This was a good win for us. It’s a big rivalry game and we had a big crown and a great atmosphere that will help us get ready for the playoffs,” Hammonton coach Gregg Silvesti said.

Hammonton jumped out to an early lead, scoring three times in the top of the first inning, roughing up St. Joe starter Gavin Steiner.

Matt McAleer led of the game with a single and Kam Bagnell followed with a walk. Two batters later, Gavin West singled in a run before Drew Fields drove in another with a double.

Eric Barts’ fielder’s choice drove in West and Hammonton led 3-0.

St. Joe got a run back in the bottom of the first, as Gavin Ramsi singled, moved to second when Ty Powell walked, and scored on Jimmy Mantuano’s single.

Hammonton continued to swing well in the second, sending eight batters to the plate and adding four more runs.

Austin Schoell reached on an error to start the rally, and with one out, McAleer and Bagnell hit back-to-back singles, Bagnell’s on a perfectly-placed bunt, to load the bases for Drew Haines, who drew a walk. West followed with a ground ball to third, but after forcing Haines at second the relay throw to first was mishandled, allowing two runs to score.

Fields followed with his second double in as many innings, scoring West for a 7-1 Hammonton lead.

Once again, St. Joseph fought back, scoring twice in the bottom of the second to keep the game within reach.

Nick Melchiore led off with a single and advanced to third on a pair of balks by Hammonton starter Jamison McNally.

After Scott DiGerolamo drew a one-out walk and Ramsi was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Powell drove in a run with a fielder’s choice and a wild pitch allowed DiGerolamo to race home for another run.

After two rough innings, both starting pitchers settled in in the third inning. Steiner allowed a leadoff single to Brayden Markart to start the top of the third, but retired the next three hitters. In the bottom of the inning, McNally gave up a single to Colin Ahart and walked Steiner but also pitched out of trouble without allowing a run.

In the bottom of the fourth, St. Joseph put another run on the board as Lucas Middleman’s double drove in Ramsi to cut Hammonton’s lead to 7-4.

The Blue Devils put the game away in the top of the fifth, scoring five more runs, all with two outs.

After Steiner retired the first two batters of the inning, Schoell singled to begin a string of six-consecutive hits for the Blue Devils.

After Schoell’s hit, Paul Kalani singled and McAleer doubled in both runners for a 9-4 lead. Bagnell’s single scored McAleer, and Haines singled to put two runners on base for West, whose double drove in a pair.

St. Joe went in order in the fifth, then left two on base in the sixth.

In the seventh, Hammonton added a run when Kalani scored on a fielder’s choice.

Mistakes cost the Wildcats, who committed two errors in the game and issued four walks.

There were also a few mental miscues that don’t show up in the box score.

“We hurt ourselves, which is not uncommon for us,” St. Joseph coach Chris Caprio said.

“Sometimes I just don’t understand it. We throw to the wrong base, are slow to make plays.

We need to play the game the right way. A team like Hammonton is too good to give runs away,” Caprio said.

The game dropped the Wildcats to 6-10 for the season.

“We’re getting better. It’s been tough. We don’t have much pitching depth. Gavin [Steiner] has been throwing well the last few starts, but he had rough outing tonight. When we hit, we win but we aren’t consistent at the plate,” Caprio said.

For Hammonton, the game continued a late-season stretch of strong play by the Blue Devils.

“We’re starting to put it together. It’s been a rough season for us, but we’re beginning to look like the team I thought we’d be, one that can make a run in the playoffs,” Silvesti said.


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