Hot Shots top Galloway, Absecon
ABSECON—A rough first season in the South Jersey South Shore Baseball League (SJSSBL) took a positive turn for the Hammonton Hot Shots last week as they won two-of-three games in what was perhaps their most successful week of the season.
“We won the week, which is something we haven’t really experienced much this season,” Hammonton manager Sam Rodio Jr. said.
Rodio and the Hot Shots have mostly been frustrated this season, as they are playing below the .500 mark and fighting to avoid a play-in game to start the postseason.
“Yeah, we’ve kind of underperformed our expectations,” Rodio said.
“It’s a new league for us and we have a lot of new players this year. It’s taking more time than I thought for us to adjust to all the changes. Not to make excuses, but we haven’t played very well either,” Rodio said.
Hammonton joined the SJSSBL this summer after having been in the Atlantic County Baseball League (ACBL) for decades.
Last year, many of the ACBL’s teams defected to the newly-former SJSSBL, leaving Hammonton and Margate to play solely against each other last season.
“That wasn’t an ideal situation. We did it hoping that we could just keep the league going, but this year, we had to make the move to the new league (SJSSBL),” Rodio said.
The shift led to the demise of the ACBL, which was left with just one team.
“It was sad, because we always enjoyed being a part of the ACBL and I didn’t want to see it go. But this is a new challenge for us, one that we haven’t done well with so far,” Rodio said.
Hammonton has had some injury issues this season and the Hot Shots have suffered from some inconsistent play.
“We don’t have a whole lot of pitching depth, which has hurt us. That and there have been plenty of nights when we haven’t been able to hit the ball. Combine that and you get the kind of season we’ve had,” Rodio said.
Last week, the Hot Shots opened with a 7-4 win against Galloway at Hammonton Lake Park.
Veteran left-hander Josh Wagner tossed a complete game to earn the win.
“Josh just knows how to pitch and get guys out. He’s really been great for us this year. We’re glad to have him back on the roster afer he pitched in Egg Harbor City last season,” Rodio said.
At the plate, Stanton Tentnowski, Gino Serechia, Dan Gavlick and Jon Gonzalez each had two hits for Hammonton in the win.
“Gonzo [Gonzalez] has been a real leader for us this year. He’s swinging the bat well and he’s our best cheerleader on the bench. And guys like “Stick” [Tentnowski], Danny Gavlick and Gino [Serechia] are starting to swing the bat really well,” Rodio said.
The following night, the Hot Shots saw their modest two-game winning streak come to an end with an 11-0 loss to the South Jersey Surf in a game that was played two nights later than originally scheduled.
“That game was postponed by rain, and we really only had one pitcher ready to go [Frank Torrissi]. He [Torrissi] threw well, but a few breaks went against us. I kind of saw that game coming once it was rained out because I knew we’d be shorthanded,” Rodio said.
One positive from the loss, according to Rodio, was the condition of the field at Hammonton Lake Park.
“The field looked great. The grounds crew did a great job getting it ready for us,” he said.
The week ended in Absecon, where the Hot Shots came away with a 6-3 win, avenging an earlier loss to the Outlaws.
Tentnowski had a two-RBI double in the win, while Serechia and Mason Dorsey added key hits.
John Kasper earned the win, throwing five strong innings.
“Kasper pitched a great game. He didn’t walk anyone. It’s his fourth-straight start without a walk,” Rodio said.
Veteran Brad Mountain made his first appearance on the mound this season, tossing a scoreless sixth inning.
“There was a Brad Mountain sighting tonight. He was able to help us out, which was great,” Rodio said.
The two victories were important as the Hot Shots hope to finish high enough in the standings to not have to play in to the playoffs.
“We definitely do not want that [a play-in game],” Rodio said.
Hammonton was idle for the holiday weekend and returned to play on July 5 at Buena. That began a stretch of eight games in 10 days for the Hot Shots.
“I’m not sure who made the schedule, but they need to find someone else for next year,” Rodio said.
On July 6, Hammonton hosts Egg Harbor city at 7 p.m.